Getting a Smooth Blend

blendingeducationOne of the biggest hurdles facing a blended learning instructor is making your course feel like one cohesive whole, rather than like two separate courses. Students notice right away if things feel disjointed and they will immediately check out if it feels as though the professor is unprepared.

In order to avoid this pitfall, it is important to consider how you’re integrating the online and face-to-face portions. There are several ways to make this happen.

Use technology wisely

If you make technology work for you in the classroom, it can not only create a great learning environment but also cut down on your work load. I wrote a post last year on tools for flipping the classroom that are also great tools for use in a blended classroom. In addition, the BlendKit Reader has a great chart that can help an instructor translate face-to-face activities into an online format (see Chapter 4, Table 2).

Bring assignments full circle

If you have a course that meets regularly, you can utilize a course structure similar to that of a flipped classroom where each topic is covered both in class and online. Check out the chart below (adapted from Jackie Gerstein) for some ideas on how to do this and check out this post for more explanation.

Flipped classroom modelBe consistent

An easy way for ensuring integration of activities in any blended classroom is to be consistent with your implementation. For example you might always:

  • present information first in class, with more opportunities for explanation online
  • place assignment instructions and details online and not cover this in class
  • have students submit assignments via an LMS or other online tool

Use a module structure

Organize the online pieces of the course into modules by topic. Each module should be relatively consistent, with recurring elements throughout. This allows students to see each topic area as an integrated whole, regardless of which mode of instruction is used.

Utilize active learning

The more students are engaged in active learning, whether online or face-to-face, the more likely it is that learning is going to happen. This also takes the focus away from modality and instead allows students to be immersed in the material. Check out my post on fostering interaction in a blended learning classroom for more information.

Note that all of these tips are interrelated. A consistently designed, module structure that wisely uses technology and active learning to bring assignments full circle is a great model for any classroom and can make a blended experience feel smooth and well designed.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below!


This is my fourth (and a half) post about blended learning as I work my way through a MOOC on blended learning.

Check out my previous posts on blended learning and my series on flipped learning:

Next time: QA in blended learning

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3 comments

  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this reflection. I am also participating in this MOOC, and your post today shares many of my concerns for making a blended course feel “smooth” to both students and instructors. I completely agree that engagement in the material is what takes the focus of of the delivery modality and puts it back on the course. To foster this engagement, care must be taken to make the change in delivery feel consistent and intuitive to the learners. Thanks again for your posts!

    Like

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