Blended learning offers the best of both worlds, involving learning activities as a mix of face-to face and online learning. It is important to create an informative, effective blended learning environment with a blended learning strategy that facilitates knowledge retention – doing so involves considering the goals of the course, as well as different approaches to blended learning.
You will want to define your blended learning course’s objectives and goals before you begin creating the content. This is because the content itself needs to be matched to students’ needs, which should be clearly identified. You should consider what skills a learner needs to develop and what information must be included within the course’s syllabus in order to develop these skills. Also, you should consider what instructional design models and learning tools could be used to convey this information.
Lefoe and Hedberg (2005) say an effective blended learning strategy takes a learning design approach. This means looking at the learning goals and basing the teaching/learning activities and assessment upon them. A course outline and/or syllabus are beneficial as they help the learner to stay on track during the course, meanwhile the developer can use the outline to monitor whether the course is progressing at the intended pace. Recognising your goals and learning objectives is crucial when developing the syllabus. It is also beneficial to specify what will be asked of the learner in terms of deadlines and assessments, participation, how the content will be delivered, and any materials required.
Consider Models and Modes of Student Engagement
Examples of blended learning design approaches:
· Mostly face-to-face teaching with some online learning
· A mix of face-to-face and online learning
· Mostly online learning Face to face Blended Online
Anderson (2004) argues that an emphasis on interaction rather than content is fundamental to blended learning.
When designing a blended learning course, you should think about different modes of student engagement:
· learner – teacher interaction (how learners engage with teachers)
– this can include learning activities & assignments , lectures, tutorials & workshops, discussion in class and forums
· learner – learner interaction (how learners engage with each other)
– this can include collaboration, group work, discussion forums, peer review, shared files
· learner – content interaction (how learners engage with content)
– this can include individual student activity, self-study exercises, review of recorded lectures, self-assessment and quizzes
Feedback is Important
It is also good to inform the learners how they can communicate with the instructor/teacher if they have a question or concern, as well as determining how you will you gain feedback from your learners. This could be constructing a survey following the blended learning course, or a online chat for which feedback can be given.
Creating your blended learning strategy may seem complex, but with meticulous thought and planning and clear definition of goals, leading to the creation of a syllabus, you will most likely develop an effective blended learning strategy.