Blended Learning*

Read: Ko & Rossen, Chapter 13: Teaching Web Enhanced and Blended Classes.
Points: concerns about blending, f2f time for complex issues, online discussion for an on-site class, using the web for class discussion, quizmaking, office hours, group projects, student presentations, don’t make it optional, calculate total student time on task, interact with class online weekly, hybrid classes.

Blended Learning usually refers to a combination of learning “modes”, most frequently on-site and online. Hybrid classes are one example of Blended Learning, and you may also hear the term “flipping”, where activities usually done in class (such as lecture) are viewed online at “home”, while activities usually done at home (homework) are done collectively in class. Although touted as something new, use of class and out-of-class time has been flipping repeatedly throughout history. There are trends with teaching just like anything else. But Blended Learning can be broadened to include not only flipping, but any format which combines face-to-face learning time with online activities.

The popularity of flipping is related to the introduction of online video tutorials, the most famous collection of which is at Khan Academy. Khan Academy provides thousands of video tutorials in many subjects, and has been embraced by many K-12 teachers as a way for students to learn and review materials on their own.

For our purposes, the difficulty is that many teachers, administrators, and Salman Khan himself in this clip, think that lectures are the recitation of facts. A good lecture is actually a presentation of interpretations, and some deliberately integrate interactive discussion within the presentation. Teachers and parents have embraced Khan Academy not as a set of lectures, but as a show-and-tell presentation format for factual information.

Jesse Stommel of Hybrid Pedagogy (a journal highly recommended for this Pathway) says that the emphasis in Blended Learning is on practice rather than principles – the focus is on the location and operation of the class. The notion of “hybrid” goes deeper into methodology in a strategic sense, and changes how we see the concepts of teaching. This is significant because it is an expression of the idea that teaching online is not simply “translating” on-site methods into a different space. The online space provides an opportunity for rethinking education all together.