Blended Learning: Models and examples

Version 1.0, October 2014

Definitions

"Blended learning" is an approach to learning where learning activities are a mix of face-to-face and online learning.

Blended learning design approaches range from:

  • Predominately face-to-face teaching, with some online learning
  • A mix of face-to-face and online learning
  • Predominately online learning

The arrangements for blended learning need to be matched to students' needs. Lefoe and Hedberg (2005) recommend a design approach to incorporating technologies into existing contexts:

"An effective blended learning environment takes a learning design approach which looks at the learning goals and aligns them with teaching and learning activities and assessment, thereby ensuring the integration and appropriate use of technology (Boud & Prosser, 2002)." (p. 326).

Models

There are various models of blended learning, for example:

Model 1 Model 2 Model 3

Blended presentation and interaction

Activity focused face-to-face sessions blended with online resources.

For example, the flipped curriculum model combines:

  • short lecture podcasts, online resources, with
  • face-to-face tutorial/seminars for interaction and presentation of group work

Blended block mode

Combination of:

  • intensive face-to-face sessions as one day or half days
  • weekly online tutorial/seminars for activities and interaction
  • online content and resources 

Fully online

Combination of:

  • short lecture podcasts, with online resources and learning activities
  • online tutorials (synchronous)
  • interaction via online collaboration, discussion forums and/or groupwork

Examples

Example 1: Activity focused blended learning for a multicampus subject

Lefoe and Hedberg (2006) outlined a multicampus blended learning in which a subject is designed in a "student-centred approach", involving pre-reading, videos or pre-recorded mini-lectures, and preparation for tutorial or workshops. These were facilitated by local tutors in small classes, and activity focused workbooks and study guides were designed for the subject. 

Example 2: Mini-lecture multicampus teaching

At La Trobe University, the subject Acute Care B (NSG2ACB) is taught to students over four campuses. The subject is structured around a blend of alternating face-to-face and online lectures. Every fortnight, a 20 minute recorded mini-lecture is accompanied by learning activities that are linked to Skills Workshops. In this blended model, an online mini-lecture is linked to 30 mins of specific activities to obtain knowledge and factual content, for instance, relevant reading, an e-book, or a quiz. The mini-lecture was produced from the desktop using Echo360, a process that did not require technical support, rooms or resources.

A similar approach is described by Storgaard & Heilesen (2010), in which a unit of study in which lectures were replaced with short, thematic video podcasts with which students constructed and presented knowledge in small group sessions. 

Example 3: Enquiry-based learning

An enquiry learning approach (Oliver, 2007) was used where "students were given a series of authentic inquiry tasks supported by a raft of learning scaffolds. The technology-facilitated system supported timely feedback and support and administrative efficiencies for the tutors and teacher."

La Trobe's School of Health Sciences extensively uses enquiry based learning. 

Example 4: Block mode multi-campus teaching

A block mode of learning design can be useful in multicampus or distributed settings where students cannot readily come to a regular sessions.

A blended learning approach for a large class described by Abraham (2007), commences with block mode, then lecturers and tutors conduct interactive sessions online. Tutors facilitate group work and formative assessment, that is provide personal guidance to students on their learning:

"The face-to-face component consisted of one full-day workshop held in Week 2 and two half-day workshops held in Weeks 7 and 11."

"The workshops were supplemented with the provision of online notes and an online serialised case study. The online component was delivered using a WebCT Vista interface which allowed extensive use of both student-student and student-coordinator asynchronous discussion between the workshop sessions."

"Assessment items consisted of weekly online textbook questions, an assignment consisting of both a group element and an individual online element, a series of three multiple choice online tests in Weeks 6, 10 and 13, and a final exam, with only the final exam being compulsory." 

Example 5: A distributed learning approach

Caroline Walta (Education, Shepparton campus) has developed the Graduate Diploma in Education (Middle Years) for post-graduate students who are off-campus and distributed in locations throughout the state and nationally. She commences with a face-to-face block mode meeting, then teaches online: with a blend of lecture presentations (podcasts or vidcasts) and learning activities on the LMS, and online workshops using synchronous virtual classroom interaction. 

Example 6: Flipping the Lecture/Tutorial

The flipped lecture (or classroom) describes an approach that involves activity-focused face-to-face sessions (whether workshops, seminars or lectures), blended with online learning resources.

EDUCAUSE (2011) offers this description:

"The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. The notion of a flipped classroom draws on such concepts as active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design, and course podcasting. The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and interact with one another in hands-on activities."

Source: Gerstein (2011)

For a La Trobe staff example of flipper curriculum, see Dr Michael O'Keefe, Dr Nick Herriman and Dr Bert De Groef's exemplar profiles. 


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