Forms of blended learning
Blended learning combines online and face-to-face learning. In some universities, it’s done on a program basis. Personally, I had very good experiences as a student in the blended MA at HUJ. It consisted of two semesters of courses that were fully online and a face-to-face block in the summer. In other universities, including PHFHNW, it’s done on a course basis by some instructors. Some sessions in one course are face-to-face, some are online. All my courses this semester use this form of blended learning.
Advantages of blended learning
Blended learning has a lot of advantages. For example, students that already teach or have a family get more flexibility in their schedule. Moreover, the hours saved on being in the classroom can also be used for giving them more workload intensive tasks, e.g. applying what they learned, doing inquiry projects or reading. It also strengthens the students’ abilities for self-regulated learning. That’s something that’s crucial in today’s fast changing world.
Nevertheless, blended learning is still a controversial issue. It’s not something that’s standard in higher education, yet. Why? Hofmann1 argues that one of the reasons for the low adoption of blended and online learning is how instructor’s see their own role. Other reasons include organizational support and the work needed to adapt materials.
But what does the research say? Do you have to be a traditional “reader” and talk the students through what they are supposed to learn in a face-to-face setting? No! Several meta-analyses indicate that students in blended learning courses actually perform modestly, but significantly better than those learning in face-to-face courses 2,3.
(1) Hofmann, Y. (2017). Digitalisierung 4.0 – Dozierende 1.0? Retrieved from https://hochschulforumdigitalisierung.de/de/blog/digitalisierung-4-0-dozierende-1-0-rollenverstaendnis-der-dozierenden
(2) Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R. F., & Baki, M. (2013). The Effectiveness of Online and Blended Learning: A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature (Abstract). Teachers College Record (www.tcrecord.org/library/abstract.asp?contentid=16882), 115(3), 1-47.
(3) U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning. A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service.