Garrison & Vaughan outline the seven basic principles for blended learning and its design process in Blended Learning in Higher Education.
There are seven basic principles for blended learning and the blended learning design process that Garrison & Vaughan outline in Blended Learning in Higher Education:
- Design for open communication & trust
- Design for critical reflection and discourse
- Create and sustain sense of community
- Support purposeful inquiry
- Ensure students sustain collaboration
- Ensure that inquiry moves to resolution
- Ensure assessment is congruent with intended learning outcomes
We have already discussed some course design strategies and models that can help us move toward these seven principles as conceptualizing our courses, but let’s look at the primary components of a blended learning environment. These components can apply to a specific blended learning activity, a lesson or module, or an entire course design; however, we will primarily be working at the level of activities or modules here. Not all of these seven principles will apply to each guideline, but it is helpful to reflect on the principles and to try to integrate them as much as is appropriate for each component.
Student learning: Foster a student-centered blended learning environment
In addition to fostering good student-student and student-instructor interaction and setting clear expectations for this, your students will want guidance on how they can succeed in your blended learning course in other areas. evaluate your course from a student perspective, and keep in mind that the online components will need explicitly outline your expectations, instructions, and objectives so that the students can see the pathway to learning as clearly as possible. This does not mean that they won’t meet challenges or frustrations with the blended environment or the integration of online components into your course, but being very thorough (more than you think you might need to be, even) and directive can help to mediate these challenges. Keep in mind that students often need to learn how to learn in a blended environment. For many, this may differ greatly from the delivery method of their other courses and they may not understand how this blended environment is a unique experience and pedagogy compared to a face-to-face only course. You may even meet some student resistance or opposition to this teaching style. For this reason, make sure to communicate your rationale and objectives to your students when appropriate and remind yourself that you are helping them to become self-directed and responsible learners in your blended learning environment via your instructions, tasks, and interaction with them.
Environment: Link the online environment to the face-to-face classroom
Consider how the two environments interact and work to seamlessly engage students. There are phases of before, during, and after for each environment: before, during, and after the face-to-face session and before, during, and after the online session. The time between phases is a key area to make streamlined, clear, and impactful. The instructor can help connect these dots by establishing a clear learning objective and define the student responsibilities and instructions during each phase. For example, after a face-to-face session, be explicit about expectations for successfully participating in the online component that will follow. Now let’s look at a model that helps us think through the three phases.
Facilitation: Engage with your students and outline how they will interact with each other
It is important to cultivate student-instructor and student-student relationships in any classroom environment but especially so in a blended learning environment so that your students know clearly what types and levels of interaction (with you and with each other) they should expect in each environment. You will be primarily responsible for fostering these interactions, setting the tone for these interactions, and encouraging your students to engage appropriately. Be clear about the formality, expectations, standards, and levels of engagement that accompany each; your students will want to know this up front, and it will be helpful for you to sketch it out for yourself as well. Time management is a key component of this facilitation. Make clear to your students how you will manage your time, when you will be interacting with them and how, and when you expect them to interact with each other and at what level. Clear expectations will ensure that the interactions in and between the face-to-face and online components are complimentary and as successful as possible.
Assessment: Reconsider traditional assessment structure and outcomes
You may well need to reevaluate traditional assessment methods in a blended environment to ensure that your assessments correspond to your learning objectives. Since all of the student learning is no longer taking place exclusively in the classroom, it would be appropriate to consider other assessment methods that align with the online environment where some of their learning is taking place. Consider discussions, self-checks or self-assessments, web quizzes, rubrics, in-class and/or online essays, “presentations” or discussion leading, and independent projects all as types of assessment for different purposes and to measure different levels of analysis and understanding. Using your learning objectives, ensure that each assessment serves a strategic purpose (both in content and in delivery method) and is useful to you and to the students; this may often mean that the traditional in-class exam or multiple choice on-paper quiz is not the most effective way of qualifying student progress. As with anything else, outline these assessments upfront in your syllabus and state clear expectations for how your students can be most successful with these.
Syllabus elements: Provide practical support and resources
The last key consideration is making sure that all of your course components and your syllabus are clear, easy to location, organized, and practical for your students. Include any tutorials, support documents, or links to help for online activities and assignments in your course site, on your syllabus, and in any related online activities. Remember that integrating the online and face-to-face environments involves a bit of thoughtful planning where it’s helpful to put yourself in your students’ places to imagine what kinds of support will be valuable and provide guidance. Orient your students as much as possible to your course components and to your blended environment; you can do this via activities, course-specific tutorials, or even an email or “how to get started” instructions sent to your students before Day 1 of the course. Finally, go through your checklist to make sure that all course components are accounted for and outlined for you and for your students.
REFERENCE + LICENSE: The text “Instructional Strategies in Blended Learning” by Steel Wagstaff, University of Wisconsin Pressbooks, via https://wisc.pb.unizin.org/teachingwithtech/chapter/instructional-strategies-in-blended-learning/, is licensed under CC BY 4.0, rephrased and shortened by SEA-EU.