Saturday, April 8, 2017

Reflection on blended learning

The core of blended-learning is the integration of face-to-face and online learning activities [1]. Very often we want to have something fancy and very innovative in our online teaching, and don't think about consequences. We should realize that just an addition of activities which don't provoke deep learning can completely destroy the course outcome. In other words, the constructive alignment will be not established. In my opinion, the course content becomes more colorful and exciting if we think very carefully about each online activity which we offer to our students.  I looked through the Topic 4 literature and was quite surprised that it is mostly about how to establish an online course, but not how to integrate the learning activities smoothly into the course program. The organic integration of thoughtfully selected activities is one of the major constituents of our success with the blended learning. I imagine the laboratory balances where both sites of face-to-face and online learning must be in a balance. Also we should think that the instructors must be trained not only to use the technology, but also bring it in the ways in which they organize and deliver the material. I have noticed during the seminar with Martha Cleveland-Innes that the activity with the testing was too much for this 1.5 hour interaction. Even the test was only 10 min, it was too overloading to be concentrated on the major course context. Instead of giving such a test during 1.5 hours lecture, maybe a shorter, more exciting, and automated test will be a better match for this seminar. I cannot also say that it provoked any new concept of the blending learning. The choice of activity, the right time point, right duration of that online activity, logical chain and our inspiring feelings from that activity play a major role in the blended course design. I thought about a memo which we need to keep in mind when we work on the blended course design. The tasks 1, 2, 3, and 4 are the well-known constituents of the Bigg's constructive alignment model [3].


What I decided to add into the blended course design are integrated interactive activities and dialog-based communication with the consistent feedback. We have to select learning activities very carefully and always ask for the feedback at the end of the class if anybody experienced large problems with the section or just has any complementary comments. The online activities must be done under guidance of the instructors using dialog-based communication. The activities between students can be also implemented in the course program, but students should be not left for a long time without any guidance. Otherwise, it will remind more the homework and assignment work which students try to solve during the class time. Also, it could become more difficult to track what students really learn from the class. I understand that not at all Universities will have enough resources for the dialog-based communication, but there are always options to split a large class in smaller groups to establish more close relationship with students and provide a better quality of guidance. Overall, we should think that we learn from our experiences, and our goal is deep and interactive learning. You remember significantly better teaching material which you learned in a good working environment by having fun and feeling motivation of others to learn something new!



  1. Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press.
  2. Grover, S., Pea, R., & Cooper, S. (2015). Designing for deeper learning in a blended computer science course for middle school students, Computer Science Education, 25(2), 199-237.
  3. Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment, Higher Education, 32, 347-364.


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