Blended Learning- So.Many.Questions.

So I love the idea of blended learning.  I love that students have the ability to navigate their own learning but still have access to a teacher and opportunity to collaborate with their peers.   In EC&I 834, we’ve talked a lot about the fact that blended learning has multiple facets and models.  A few of these models are discussed the following video:


Because blended learning is so vast, I know that I fall somewhere within the spectrum of blended learning as I utilize technology within my teaching for the purpose of enhancing the learning of my students.  However, like Amy discusses in her blog this week, I’m not really sure what blended learning should look like as a specifically designed course in my middle years classroom.  Beyond utilizing technology, I find it difficult to know how to create a fluid pathway of blended learning.  How do I move between face to face and an online portion beyond what I’m already doing?  How do I create a program that allows for individuality as well as collaboration?  Is this all specified within the LMS I’m using?  Lots. Of. Questions.

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While I researched blended learning this week, I found that as with all things, there are companies who are invested in promoting and providing resources for blended learning.  One company that specializes in math discusses how they assess students, build an individual, personalized program for the day, provide a daily list of what teachers and students need to do for the day, pump out the necessary lesson plans and online resources and then reassess and build a program for the next day.  Parts of this sound ideal and parts sound robotic, but either way… think of all that work for one subject and it’s done by a computer!! How can I, as a lone human, create a blended system that works, think about that many elements, and not die in the process?

Thankfully, I came across an article by Fischer that stated:

Like the light bulb, building a successful blended-learning environment for students is a process of innovation, not an event.

To create and do something well, it will never begin perfectly, but begin it must.  So based upon my professional judgment, knowledge and needs of my students, knowledge of the curriculum and understanding of my access and limitations with technology, I just need to make the best decisions at this point regarding blended learning and then change and innovate as I go … just like I always do.   This is how I always teach – implementation, analysis and then reflection and change for improvement.

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I came across a site that laid out a framework with different steps and considerations for designing and implementing blended learning. The colour palette graphic is clickable within the site and gives different questions/thoughts to consider for each step when designing a blended learning environment.  In addition, there is a video and worksheet to give further guidance for educators for each step of the design process.  I found elements of this process helpful as I think about how to navigate my own course prototype.

Ultimately, the needs of my students must drive my prototype design.  I still have questions about how to merge face to face and the online component, but I know at some point I just have to make some decisions, jump in and try it and then make the necessary changes to make it better.  This course prototype is not just an assignment or an event.  It is real life learning.  It is a process of innovation.  It is not finished once it is implemented.  It is just beginning – awaiting refinement.  With this perspective, I feel a little more free to design my blended learning prototype.

How about you?  How are you feeling about blended learning or your prototype?



15 thoughts on “Blended Learning- So.Many.Questions.

  1. I love blended learning. You’re right about just needing to start and then see how things go from there! I feel that this comes easier for me being a high school teacher, and I feel that it’s easier to do in my senior classes as the students are more responsible and ready to take on more independent learning. It’s a process of training, so I think you need to start small and see where it goes! There’s a quote from Bates I put in my blog and he says you need to think about what things can be done online and what things are best done face to face and then you can better decide what parts you can put in an online medium.

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  2. I too love blended learning. I find my nursing students enjoy it as well as it encourages them to seek out learning opportunities themselves and spend focused time on context that they feel more time on or are more interested in. I feel blended learning also caters to a variety of learners needs as well. Having the blend of f2f and web based content I think offers the best of all worlds.

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  3. I feel the same way that you do in many regards. I have felt as though I just need to jump in to get started and I feel like I am learning as I go. It’s hard to feel like I’m making the right decisions when in reality I don’t think there are any wrong decisions that can be made. Like you said it’s about getting started. Once we get started we can always go back and change things. Things will always need to be changed because our students will always be changing. The best thing we can do is to think about all of the different ways we can reach the different students in our class and try to make that work in a blended setting. Sounds like you’ve got the foundational ideas figured out!

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  4. Natalie – as always – your post is so easy to read and SO informative! I feel that my lessons sometimes fall into the category of “blended learning”…. but definitely not all of the time. Given that, I really appreciated the quote by Fischer about blended learning being a “process of innovation”, rather than an “event”. Thinking of blended learning as an event – as I had, in some ways, been doing – made me feel that I would either get it right, or I would get it wrong. The idea of “creating” a blended learning environment through trial (and error) seems much less daunting! Thanks for the great insight :).

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  5. Thanks for the post Natalie! I love bended learning and the more I learn about it the better it gets. I am doing a research paper for another class on Millennials and how they learn as well as how to lead them as employers. What keeps coming up in the research is that they learn best with blended learning!

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  6. Natalie, I loved your post and I also definitely appreciate your questions regarding meeting the needs of your students within the blended environment. I love how you state that the needs of your students must drive the prototype design (as a matter of fact, I cited your comment in my own blog!). This point is so true!! So often we shop around for platforms and tools for delivery, then look for ways to fit the tool to our student needs and learning styles. What I really appreciate is that you are not locking into any tool, instead you are making sure that the model you choose is pedagogically appropriate. And quite honestly that framework you found definitely will aid in grounding anyone in the pedagogy for online or blended learning. I find that at some point, there will be the doubts. No platform or tool will be everything you need, you just do your best and guide your students in the process…. and perhaps that’s the part that I love about the blended model.

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  7. Very informative post Natalie! I agree with Andrew that it is a bit easier to implement a truer form of blended learning with high school students or adult learners. So, for myself, grade 4 students are pretty young but just as eager. I will continue with adding online tools, reflecting and tweaking my blended learning format. One step at a time as always. Of course, when we continuously read blogs and learn about the amazing things that are happening in classrooms, it instills a sense of panic and second guessing ourselves. So, I just keep going!

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