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What is ‘blended learning’?
Why blended learning?
Is blended learning the best choice for your particular course?
How do you incorporate blended learning in your course?
What are some considerations when using blended learning?
Blended learning or ‘hybrid learning,’ is learning that combines the best of online learning and face-to-face instruction for the purpose of enhancing learning. ‘Flipping the classroom’ or ‘inverted teaching’ are also forms of blended learning, as course content is moved out of the classroom to an online format allowing for class time to be more interactive.
- More flexibility for students and instructors.
- Varied ways for students to engage in and demonstrate their learning.
- Both instructors and students have the opportunity to develop their technology skills.
- Students prefer courses that have some online components (ECAR, 2012).
- Some technologies allow for more learning to take place, or facilitate a specific kind of learning activity that might not be possible without the technology.
Whether or not you choose to use a blended learning approach may depend on these factors:
- Your comfort level with using technology for learning.
- Whether or not you can attain your course learning outcomes with a blended learning format.
- If there are any particular challenges you are facing that may be remedied through online learning.
- How much time you want in class to do more interactive learning activities.
- As with designing any course, the first step is to think about what you want to teach, and what you want students to learn. What are your learning outcomes? What do you want students to know, value, or be able to do as a result of taking your course?
- Once you know your learning outcomes, you can start thinking about the ways you will engage students in learning and the ways in which you will measure this learning.
- With these learning and assessment activities in mind, consider which ones lend themselves best to online learning and which are a better fit for in-class learning, or face-to-face activities.
Blended learning can take many forms based on your specific teaching goals and challenges. Here are two examples of how you might incorporate blended learning in your course:
- You want students to develop the ability to articulate their views on course topics, so you decide to conduct discussions or debates in class. Since this takes more time, content typically delivered through a lecture might be made available to students through videos (ones that already exist, or make your own through screen capture technology).
- You conduct in-class discussions or hold debates and find that many students do not participate or make substantial contributions. Hosting discussions online in place of in-class discussion or debates can accommodate a variety of learning styles, allow you to provide more structure to a discussion, encourage more participation, and result in more thoughtful responses. This will not necessarily happen naturally; planning for effective online discussions is imperative.
See our resources below for more ideas on designing a blended learning course, moving content outside of the classroom, and online discussions.
- It is important to connect the online and face-to-face learning activities for the purpose of deeper learning.
- Be aware of the amount of time it takes students to complete course activities. If more time is spent out of class doing course work, then you might cut down class face-to-face time or cut out other course assignments. Blended learning should not involve tacking on extra work.
- Online learning can require more independent learning on the students’ part. Students may need more support in the form of clear guidelines, expectations for participation, and firm deadlines throughout the course.
- Students may initially be pushed out of their learning comfort zone. Explain your rationale for using blended learning and describe the learning benefits.
- Student ability to use technology may vary. Be prepared to support students in using technology and perhaps start your course with a low-stakes online assignment to get students acclimated.
Please note that these PDF files require a CU NetID to access. The links will direct you to a login page.
CTE Designing a Blended Learning Course
CTE Moving the Lecture Outside the Classroom
CTE Online Discussions
Consult with Center for Teaching Excellence staff about learning outcomes and blended learning.
Academic Technologies Center can help you with getting started with learning technologies and can also support students in using the tool.
Garrison, D.R. & Vaughan, N.D. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series.
Sands, P. (2002). Inside outside, upside downside: Strategies for connecting online and face-to-face instruction in hybrid courses. Teaching with Technology Today, 8 (6). Retrieved from: http://www.uwsa.edu/ttt/articles/sands2.htm
University of Central Florida (CDL) & American Association of State College and Universities (AASCU) (n.d.). The Blended Learning Toolkit. Retrieved from: http://blended.online.ucf.edu/
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (n.d.) Hybrid Courses. Retrieved from: http://www4.uwm.edu/ltc/hybrid/