Student engagement is a key concern for educators. Does effective learning take place if students are not able to make meaningful connections with course material? Blended learning has been shown to increase both student engagement and achievement more effectively than both in-person and online instruction alone.
Blended learning is a mix of traditional classroom presentations and online material, which aims to have students become more active participants in their classes. This mix includes online instruction with face-to-face contact to deliver a more well-rounded and engaging class. (2)
Setting Student-Based Goals
If the goal of blended learning is to increase student achievement and engagement, then the course outcome should reflect this goal. This mindset frames how educators revise their course presentation. Incorporating blended learning should not be seen as an extra burden in a class. Presentation also should center on students’ diverse learning styles and needs to have meaningful connection to classroom content. (3) Action studies have shown that students feel more connected to content and curriculum when the course goals match their own expectations for learning and instruction. (3)
High school ELA teacher Caitlin Tucker has stated that the blended learning model has created “more meaningful” learning experiences for students in her classroom. (2) She feels this is because of students’ familiarity with technology, as well as the student-based goals and activities that are more relevant to the course and curriculum.
Best Ratio of Online and In-Person Work
Understanding which portions of curriculum will work with blended learning takes time to examine. Overhauling an entire course and its delivery takes an increased time commitment, potentially from three to six months for one course. (4)
One beginning technique is to have students review concepts online before coming to class. This allows a discussion centered around a common knowledge base. (5) This in-person class discussion is the place where checks for understanding and more in-depth applications can take place (6)
Hurdles to Incorporating Blended Learning
The overhaul of a entire course can be very time-consuming. The educator must be willing to make this initial shift in order to promote student enthusiasm and achievement.
If an educator is not tech-savvy, the online portion may present a technology barrier. Educators need to look for online communities to assist with technical issues. They can also request professional development training with their colleagues to create a professional learning community on campus. (7)
Shifts in pedagogy and delivery take time to develop and deliver with efficiency. Blended learning is both time-consuming and requires a shift in student outcome goals. However, if the end objective is increased student engagement and achievement, the end product is worth the effort.
- “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning .” September 2010. Accessed September 27, 2017. https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf.
- Tucker, Caitlin R. “The Basics of Blended Instruction.” Educational Leadership70, no. 6 (March 2013): 57-60. Accessed September 27, 2017.
- Kaleta, R., K. Skibba, and T. Joosten. “Discovering, Delivering, and Designing Hybrid Courses.” In Blended Learning: Research Perspectives, 111-43. Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education, 2007.
- Mcgee, Patricia, and Abby Reis. “Blended Course Design: A Synthesis of Best Practices.” Online Learning16, no. 4 (2012). doi:10.24059/olj.v16i4.239.
5 Kenney, Jane, and Ellen Newcombe. “Adopting a Blended Learning Approach: Challenges Encountered and Lessons Learned in an Action Research Study.” The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks15, no. 1, 45-57. Accessed September 27, 2017.
- Vaughn, Norman. “Perspectives on Blended Learning in Higher Education.” International Journal of E-Learning, January 1, 2007. Accessed September 27, 2017. https://www.thefreelibrary.com/_/print/PrintArticle.aspx?id=159594390.
- Butler, D. L., and M. Sellbom. “Barriers to Adopting Technology for Teaching and Learning.” EDUCAUSE Quarterly2 (2002): 22-28. Accessed September 27, 2017.