Putting the Learning in Blended Learning — from Faculty Focus by Ike Shibley, PhD. in Instructional Design

Blended learning involves using a combination of face-to-face interactions and online interactions in the same course. Students still regularly meet in the classroom in a blended course, but the frequency of those meetings is usually decreased. The goal of blended learning is to facilitate greater student learning and could thus fit within a learner-centered paradigm.

Many discussions about blended learning, however, focus not on learning but on blending. “Blended” is an adjective and “learning” is a noun; why has our focus been directed at the adjective? Do we assume, as is often done in the teaching paradigm, that learning is automatically assumed? I think that blended learning has become widely established enough that attention can now be paid to the learning portion of the name.

In higher education learning must be the focus—the push for learner-centered teaching is a noble, pedagogically defensible goal. Improving the cost-effectiveness of teaching should play only a secondary role. An instructor should not begin a blended design by asking how many face-to-face hours are really necessary, even though some administrators may use reduced hours as a starting point. The course should be designed to maximize learning.

Also see:

The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning — Michael Horn

Online learning is sweeping across America. In the year 2000, roughly 45,000 K–12 students took an online course. In 2009, more than 3 million K–12 students did. What was originally a distance- learning phenomenon no longer is, as most of the growth is increasingly occurring in blended-learning environments, in which students learn online in an adult-supervised environment at least part of the time. As this happens, online learning has the potential to transform America’s education system by serving as the backbone of a system that offers more personalized learning approaches for all students.

This week Innosight Institute released a report about this phenomenon and opportunity titled “The rise of K-12 blended learning.”

Written in conjunction with the Charter School Growth Fund and Public Impact, my coauthor and colleague Heather Staker and I use the report to try to bring clarity to a field that has had multiple definitions over what blended learning is. Ours is an overarching one…

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More for Less: New Research Points to Blended Learning — from EdReformer.com by Bennet Ratcliff

…which links to “The rise of K-12 blended learning” from the Innosight Institute by Michael Horn and Heather Staker

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The Future of Education -- by Sajan George at Calvin College -- 1-24-11.

From DSC:
It shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows my work when I say that I think Sajan George is right on the mark!   🙂

For example, below are the main points of what I heard him say (with some graphics of my own that back up what I have been saying):

Sajan George: The Future of Education
January Series at Calvin College (January 24, 2011)

We are living in a new age, the Conceptual Age — primary skill sets that we now need are for creators and empathizers. Why? Because those two skillsets aren’t easily automated or outsourced (Sajan referenced Dan Pink’s work).

We built our education system in between the agricultural and industrial ages; mass production model was built during a much different time with different needs.

Speed and acceleration of change has greatly increased.  At a phenomenal pace!

From DSC:
You may have seen me post this graphic a few times:

The pace has changed significantly and quickly

Sajan gave an example that focused on an older model of a coffee maker vs. a newer model: Coffee Maker 1.0 vs. Coffee Maker 2.0. Point was that we still need skills, but design, esthetic, and emotion have become more important.

Also, we live in a society that demands Coffee Maker 2.0 — but our educational systems are still offering Education 1.0.  We are still batching kids by age, using a 1-to-many model, etc.

We still are offering “Education 1.0” where

  • Content is king
  • Collaboration is cheating
  • Poor performance gets you an F – discouraging
  • Teacher role = expert

…but we are living in a “Society 2.0” world

  • Experience is king
  • Collaboration is encouraged
  • Performance is rewarded; like game designers, encouraged to try again
  • Teacher and student roles are interchangeable; teacher more of a facilitator

Also, our current methods of educating students is not scalable, not sustainable!

Previous attempts at changing our educational systems have failed because they’ve been trying to fix the status quo of education! It’s a design problem.

From DSC:
You may have seen me post this graphic a few times:

Daniel S. Christian: My concerns with just maintaining the status quo

Current educational system needs to be completely blown up and redesigned! We live in a digital world, yet kids sitting in analog world.

Technology that customizes learning – recommendation engines, adaptive learning; personalized/customized learning.

Online learning is scalable, sustainable – while offering instantaneous feedback. Per Sajan, “But it’s happening on the fringes; home school kids; supplemental, etc.”

Hybrid environment – hoping to nationally launch this year

  • Each student gets 2 teachers
  • Netbook w/ curriculum – w/ lessons loaded
  • Learning management system progresses each child at that student’s pace
  • Bulk is in online engine
  • Teachers don’t have to lesson plan, grade, etc. – so what do they do? The role of the teacher changes to being a facilitator of learning – a coach, mentor, a guide. Can build better, closer relationships.

Use data to differentiate instruction.

Design problem in education.

Hybrid learning <– Sajan’s current work promoting this model; brings power of human interaction with the customization that technology can bring.

From DSC:
You may have seen this graphic I’ve posted a few times — that aims to capture the best of both worlds:

Let's take the best of both worlds -- online learning and face-to-face learning

When trying to change things, you need a compelling vision of what you are trying to build/achieve.

From DSC:
You may have seen the vision I was trying to relay here.

From Q&A session…with a hybrid mode:

  • Not labeling some kids as struggling students; teachers forced to leave some behind while trying to keep the plates spinning over there for kids who are getting it

Millions of TV’s (as completely converged/Internet-connected devices) = millions of learners?!?

From DSC:

The other day, I created/posted the top graphic below. Take the concepts below — hook them up to engines that use cloud-based learner profiles — and you have some serious potential for powerful, global, ubiquitous learning! A touch-sensitive panel might be interesting here as well.

Come to think of it, add social networking, videoconferencing, and web-based collaboration tools — the power to learn would be quite impressive.  Multimedia to the nth degree.

Then add to that online marketplaces for teaching and learning — where you can be both a teacher and a learner at the same time — hmmm…



From DSC:
Then today, I saw Cisco’s piece on their Videoscape product line! Check it out!







Georgia Tech Center to explore 21st century universities — from CampusTechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

The Georgia Institute of Technology is setting up a new center specifically to serve as a living laboratory for testing new forms of education. Driven by the growth of social networking, online learning, and other developments, the Center for 21st Century Universities will enable faculty at the Atlanta institution to experiment with new approaches to curriculum and its delivery. According to former College of Computing Dean Rich DeMillo, who will lead the center, it will also work with national and international groups involved in higher education reform. The first item on the center’s agenda is to develop a seed grant program for promising early proposals.

How will technologies like AirPlay affect education? I suggest 24x7x365 access on any device may be one way. By Daniel S. Christian at Learning Ecosystems blog-- 1-17-11.


Addendum on 1-20-11:
The future of the TV is online
— from telegraph.co.uk
Your television’s going to get connected, says Matt Warman

A Big Idea: Blended CBO — from EdReformer.com by Tom Vander Ark

The nation received a friendly ‘C’ in the annual state of the nation last week. We need quality at scale and there is finally a way achieve it.

More than two million students learn online.  The scaled providers (Apex, K12, Connections, Florida Virtual, NC Virtual, and Lincoln Interactive to name a few) could triple in size given 60 days notice and do it with consistent quality.  We’ve never had an opportunity like that; it’s only local and state policy that stands in the way  of better learning opportunities for several million kids and fast.

Community–based organizations (CBO) build powerful sustained relationships with youth, engage them in developmental activities, and connect them to youth and family services.  Many of them are frustrated by working around struggling schools.

If we combine the two assets—online instruction and powerful community connections—we get one big scalable idea: blended CBOs.  A blended school model incorporates online learning and onsite support in ways that are often more flexible and cost effective than traditional schools.

Michael Robbins, Department of Education’s Office of Faith-Based Partnerships, is interested in expanding the educational impact of CBOs.  He thinks blended CBOs is a big idea.  Over breakfast at DC’s Tabard Inn, Michael and I sketched out a couple ways this idea could scale:

Also see:


The 19,100-student Grand Rapids school district in Michigan launched blended-learning classes this past fall. The district has started with high school social studies and math classes.

“There was some initial resistance from the public—concerned parents with the perception that kids are just going to be stuck in computer labs—but that’s absolutely contrary to what [this] is,” said John Helmholdt, the director of communications for the district. “When you say blended, people don’t understand what that means. It took months of really trying to educate and raise awareness of really what it was we were trying to do.”

Moving to a blended model actually made teacher-student ratios better, according to Mr. Helmholdt, by layering on support-staff members to circulate when the students were completing work online.

In Grand Rapids, the blended classes go through a three-day rotation of face-to-face and online instruction. During the first day, students receive a traditional lecture-based class in a regular classroom where a new concept is introduced. On the second day, the class starts by going over the concept again and then beginning to use some of the online software and support tools that reinforce the concept. On the third day, the students work solely with digital resources. [Rest of article here.]

From DSC:
I am very glad that the Grand Rapids school system is moving in this direction!  It is a huge step in the right direction and I congratulate the district’s leadership for their vision and patience while this plane gets off the runway. This endeavor will help the students begin to build digital/information literacy. It will open their minds up to numerous creative possibilities — as well as career opportunities and goals. They are beginning to have
the world as their school“.

Math that moves -- the use of the iPad in K-12 -- from the New York Times


From DSC:
I post this here — with higher ed included in the tags/categories — because if the trend within K-12 continues (i.e. that of using such technologies as the iPad, digital textbooks, mobile learning devices, etc.), students’ expectations WILL be impacted. When they hit our doorsteps, they will come with their heightened sets of expectations. The question is, will we in higher ed be ready for them?

The Benefits of Blended Learning Explained — from Faculty Focus

When talking to administrators, point out that blended learning…

  • impacts the entire institution.
  • offers a learner-centered pedagogy.
  • may integrate with the strategic plan.
  • improves classroom utilization.
  • can help match delivery to academic need.
  • can help fill under-enrolled courses and programs.

When talking to faculty, point out that blended learning….

  • gives them access to new resources.
  • introduces them to online learning.
  • is an opportunity for faculty development and lets them experiment with new pedagogies and techniques.
  • helps meet student expectations and build student skills.
  • allows for more flexible scheduling.
  • retains the face-to-face aspect faculty may cherish.

When talking to students, point out blended learning…

  • meets their expectations for utilizing technology.
  • develops independent learning skills.
  • offers increased flexibility and convenience.
  • provides better access to those with job, family, or distance barriers.
  • helps reduce educational costs.

Let's take the best of both worlds -- online learning and face-to-face learning

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Learning and the State of Business in 2011 — from Chief Learning Office by Bob Lee

As the pace of business continues to accelerate and mobility within the workforce continues to rise, virtual communication and collaboration in support of learning becomes more and more essential. Blended approaches that combine the best of traditional learning models with online learning are gaining momentum because they help decrease costs and meet the needs of an increasingly dispersed and mobile business workforce. A blended learning approach offers faster and more affordable ways to arm an organization with the knowledge and skills needed to adapt to changes and achieve business goals.

eLearning predictions for 2011 and beyond — from Web Courseworks.com by Jon Aleckson


This summer I attended the 2010 Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Some very interesting topics came up in the facilitated Think Tanks, and I wanted to share some of the predictions that were developed from these active group discussions regarding where eLearning will go in the next ten years.

Below you will find a table that summarizes the different opportunities and challenges that were predicted to arise in the next ten years by the participants in the conference Think Tanks and by [Jon Aleckson].

Opportunities Challenges
  1. Bridging informal and formal education
  2. Movement between schools to obtain courses needed for custom degrees
  3. Increase in shared knowledge among students and learners
  4. Networking and learning from each other
  5. Resumes will include informal and formal learning experiences acquired via the Internet
  1. Developing standards to gauge education and competency from multiple sources
  2. Providing an authoritative, reliable source for information (e.g. not just Wikipedia)
  3. Physical and psychological distance from other learners and instructors.
  4. Quality measures for informal and formal professional development attained on the Internet.
K-12 Instruction
  1. Reducing barriers to funding, certification, credit and accreditation
  2. Increase access to quality education for all students
  3. Open “course” concept to new blends of delivery and teaching
  4. Providing for more game-based learning experiences and techniques for a variety of learning styles
  5. Using new technology in the classroom
  1. Defining online and blended education
  2. Development of technical infrastructure, internet access and equipment
  3. Maintaining the custodial function of school
  4. Acquiring funding for bold Internet delivered experiences for the classroom
  5. Allowing use of new technology in the classroom
Corporate Training
  1. Just-in-time learning
  2. Greater access to information
  3. Peer coaching
  4. Cloud training
  5. Ability to reach those previously unreachable
  1. Intellectual property rights
  2. Resistance to using open content
  3. Peer review of resources
  4. Unknown impact of open universities
  5. Technical challenges related to size of offerings and rapidly changing technology
  1. Tools allowing for easier collaboration and interaction
  2. Richer media experience (videos and simulations)
  3. Content repositories & Learning Object distribution and searchability
  4. Movement away from static textbooks as primary resource
  1. Growing tension between standard core content and differentiation of content
  2. Where will content for curriculum come from?
  3. What part will student-generated content play?
  4. More copyright issues
Learning Environment
  1. Customized learning spaces, i.e. personal learning environments (PLEs)
  2. Customization of content presentation and access
  3. eReaders and eBooks providing better and more interactive content (just in time)
  4. Changing paradigm of “bounded courses” to unbounded courses where learning is a continuous process that can occur anywhere and at any time
  1. Determining fit and purpose of new tools and pedagogical approaches
  2. Standards for smart phones/mobile apps
  3. Issues with accreditation, privacy and copyrights
  4. Universal access to technology, equipment, and the internet
  1. More involvement and collaboration with online and distance learning initiatives
  2. More part-time faculty teaching for several institutions
  3. Faculty practices and entrepreneurs
  4. Changing role of faculty and PD instructors
  1. What will the primary role of faculty be?
  2. Faculty segmentation into master teachers, mentors, researchers, tutors, etc.
  3. Changing of promotion and tenure to accommodate different roles
  4. Changing pay structure
  1. Continued growth of open education with some program stabilization
  2. Improved learner focus
  3. Increased blending/blurring of traditional on-campus with online options
  4. More collaboration with other administrators to influence policy makers
  1. Managing and maintaining growth
  2. How to blend on and off campus learner programs
  3. Regulatory and accreditation issues
  4. Student accountability issues (plagiarism/doctoring)
  5. Improving faculty/ instructor readiness
International Perspectives
  1. Providing access to education even to remote, rural, and developing areas
  2. Promote intercultural mixing and diversity through education
  3. Improving educational access in segregated societies
  4. Sharing resources and co-producing content to reduce cost
  5. Serve new growing customer groups
  6. Informal learning, sharing own learning with others via internet (e.g. blogs, wiki)
  1. Technological infrastructure of societies
  2. Understanding of different people and places
  3. Eliminating the “we and they” thinking
  4. Illiterate audiences
  5. International/cultural conflicts
  6. Developing culturally aware curricula
  7. Differences in cost of education and fees
  8. Selecting suitable types of content delivery
  9. Refiguring content for different learner communities

10 blended high school models — from EdReformer.com by Tom Vander Ark

Blended high schools incorporate multiple modes of learning to prepare students for college and careers.  Blended learning is a shift of instructional responsibility for at least a portion of the day to an online environment to boost learning, staffing, and or  facilities productivity. Following are 10 blended high school models in operation or development…

Challenges Seen in Moving to Multimedia Textbooks — from edweek.org by Katie Ash
Supporting the use of multimedia-rich and interactive textbooks in K-12 will require much more digital bandwidth

“Right now, as long as all we’re doing is PDF files, the bandwidth and infrastructure in Virginia isn’t going to be a problem,” says Lan W. Neugent, the assistant superintendent of technology, career, and adult education for the Virginia Department of Education.

“But we’re going to see books become multimedia extravaganzas,” he says, “and the minute that happens, then suddenly the bandwidth is going to be pitiful.”

© 2021 | Daniel Christian