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Blended learning

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is the interdependent combination of face-to-face and online education. It involves combining the best of these two modes of learning in such a way that they complement and supplement each other. Effective blended learning occurs when online and face-to-face modalities are used to their full advantage for optimal interaction and when there is capacity for student-paced and student-directed learning.

Blended learning is not just teaching with technology, it involves combining traditional face-to-face methods with online enabled learning in a mutually beneficial fashion.

Blended learning does not represent a simple repository mentality where the same materials are simply delivered in two modes instead of one. There needs to be a difference, a reason and a value added factor between the on-line and face to face offerings, rather than using one as a virtual mirror of the other.

Blended learning through iLearn?

One of the key ways blended learning is facilitated at Bond is through iLearn, powered by the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS).

iLearn @Bond provides an online environment for lecturers, students, researchers and communities to:

  • create and share learning material
  • encourage participation and collaboration in small groups by utilising anywhere, anytime access to sharing and communication tools
  • facilitate the use of engaging assessment, utilising online web technologies for discussion, interaction, research, submission and/or reflection
  • evaluate learning using built-in evaluation and assessment capabilities.

Examples of blended learning

Rather than just uploading to her iLearn site the exact slides she uses in her lecture, a professor makes a series of shorter summary slides which students can view online after each class. These review slides might offer a few different examples, rephrase key concepts or even raise some follow up questions to be discussed in a tutorial later in the week. Because the slides are not simply carbon copies of the one used in the lecture, students are far less likely to see the on-line and in class offerings as either/or options, but rather as part of a well-planned and coordinated learning experience.

Imagine a class, where in addition to the traditional hand raising, students can use their keyboards to ask questions, raise points and even share content in a virtual conversation which runs in parallel to the face-to-face class and in real time.  Electronic backchannels are a great example of online communication and collaboration which can run in sequence to complement traditional face-to-face learning. During the lecture the teacher could ask a question and students could text their answers, or whether or not they understood a particular point, or perhaps share a link to a related website. Some student might prefer raising their hands and answering in front of the class, while others prefer to participate virtually. With a quick glance at his iPad or phone, the teacher reads the comments and proceeds accordingly. The virtual conversations can extend beyond the class times allowing students time to reflect and continue the discussion, and also keep the transcript for later review.

Instead of presenting content just in lectures, more and more academics are taking advantage of a flipped approach, which involves either making or using existing recorded resources for students to view outside of class hours.  One example is a lecturer making an audio recording of some key points for educational podcasts which students can listen to before a class, or perhaps a tutor finding a relevant video online which students can view after classes to reinforce a particular point. Of course the tutor could also opt to make the video himself using one of many easy-to-use screencasting software available. Using audio and video resources for students to view online frees up valuable in-class time for questions, discussion, applications and personal interaction.  It also provides students with a host of content based resources which they can watch while jogging, riding the bus, or at a time and place convenient to their busy lives.

Blended learning resources

Blended learning production rooms

If you are looking for a quiet place to do some recording, videoing or just have access to some creative and innovative blended learning tools, the Office of Learning and Teaching has two blended learning production rooms available which can be reserved. These rooms have high end computers, professional microphones and are private and set up for academics to be able to come in and start their creation of blended learning resources.

Blended learning resource library

OLT will provide a number of blended learning resources in a variety of formats (videos, podcasts, interactive lessons, printed materials etc.) which will be available online. These will cover a variety of related topics such as new e-learning tool summaries, practical how to guides, articles and scholarly research, pedagogical theories and ideas.

Please encourage your team to take advantage of these support resources so that blended learning at Bond can continue to grow!