Blended learning (also called hybrid learning) is offered with different models of design and delivery, with each approach suiting particular student groups and content. Accompanying this overview of the diversity in blended learning are some reflections from faculty on pedagogy, structure and strategies which emerge from their experiences and those of their students,
Flipped Classroom: In the widely used flipped classroom model, online modules feature what is often the core content of the course through readings, practice exercises, self-assessment quizzes, videos, discussion boards, images, and a multitude of other resources. Students work with these resources before class, thereby arriving informed and ready to participate. In the face-to-face portion, students interact with the professor and/or in group tutorials headed by teaching assistants, focused on problem-solving, field trips, practical exercises, and discussions – whatever forms of participatory learning best suit the course.
This model is used at many Ontario colleges and universities, including Cambrian College for a Public Relations course, Lambton College in Physical Anthropology, in Introductory Psychology at McMaster University, at Wilfrid Laurier University in Organic Chemistry, and at the University of Ottawa in Science Fiction, as well as courses in Calculus, Sociology, Classics, and Psychology from Queen’s University. The flipped classroom, often used in large-enrolment and first-year courses, offers students the possibility of developing content expertise in their own time and pace, while the classroom highlights engagement and exchange rather than lengthy lectures.
Delivery Alternatives: In some blended courses, professors combine weeks of face-to-face classes with other weeks provided completely online, such as in the Human Services program at Mohawk College, in Ontario. In language/communications courses taken by all students at Mohawk College, the blend of face-to-face and online delivery is modified to meet the needs of each program and its students.
At Ontario’s Durham College and Niagara College, professors include three formats with students progressing over the weeks of a course from face-to-face classes, to blended delivery, to fully online learning. Students become familiar with the technologies and strategies for learning online, while also having the opportunity to build community in the face-to-face classroom. Canadore College has courses for apprentices, with online learning offered to students in the workplace combined with on-campus practical sessions.
Students at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, study how to teach vocal and instrumental music primarily online, with plentiful provision for engagement and feedback, supplemented by face-to-face workshops.
Blogs and posters are used for student exchange and reports on their research topics in a course in children’s health at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Agile design at l’Université du Québec à Trois- Rivières in Québec, Canada supports integration of the latest technologies with achievement of pedagogical goals. A blended course in Babylonian Culture at Università Ca’ Foscari in Italy offers students online practice in cuneiform writing, leading to increased engagement and skill development.
Offering Complete Programs: In a model used in Ontario health science programs at Lakehead University and apprenticeships at Durham College and Sault College, all course content for the completion of a degree, diploma, or certificate is delivered online, followed by, or integrated with, face-to-face practical experience in shops, labs, and clinical placements. The online content for a complete program may be developed by one college or university or jointly developed and shared among many institutions with the result that students can complete a program online with courses from a variety of institutions and attend face-to-face sessions in their communities.
Nipissing University offers a degree completion option for students with three-year business diplomas from colleges through blended learning partnerships with six Ontario colleges. The availability of blended programs has greatly extended access to post-secondary education in northern and Aboriginal communities, as shown in experience like those at Ontario’s Lakehead University.
Faculty Perceptions and Experiences: The professors, whose experiences are featured in the Pockets of Innovation Series, offer a number of perceptions and principles regarding blended learning:
- Course development often begins with an examination of course content to determine what can best be taught online and what is more suitable for face-to-face teaching and learning. Guiding this is a shift in pedagogical thinking that emphasizes the importance of student involvement, both online and in-class, for optimal learning. One consequence is a change in approach to classroom teaching, from delivery of content to engagement, which impacts not only blended learning classes but also faculty approaches to teaching overall.
- Collaboration with centres for learning and teaching at colleges and universities is beneficial in understanding the new approaches to teaching and learning and the capacities, contributions, and challenges of technologies. Development of all models of online learning requires considerable time and creative commitment.
- Students appreciate the opportunity to prepare for and engage in classes rather than listen to long, one-time-only lectures. Blended learning modules allow self-paced learning, with content available for review and for targeted studying on points of difficulty. Students often arrive at class eager to apply what they learned to real-life case studies and problem-solving.
- Blended learning also requires dedication and discipline on the part of students as core content is no longer delivered in lectures. One professor calls this “the double-edged sword of self-paced learning”. Many faculty encounter difficulties convincing students that the online portion of a blended course is core, essential content rather than optional. Weekly online quizzes for marks, online group and individual projects, time limited access to modules, and other strategies are adopted to encourage continuous participation.
Blended learning complements the trend in post-secondary sector to more active, engaged, and experiential learning, while also extending access by making learning more flexible and individually-paced. Research in many institutions demonstrates an increase in student grades in blended learning courses, with results higher than those from face-to-face delivery and online learning.
Click one of the three links below to see a list of the Pockets of Innovation under each category and a link to the specific Pocket of Innovation.
- Cambrian College - Student Choice: Offering Multiple Course Design Options for Better Access and Learning at Cambrian College
- Canadore College - Developing Online Learning Opportunities for Apprentices in the Motive Power Department at Canadore College
- Durham College - Combining Traditional, Hybrid, and Online Learning in a Progressive Delivery Model at Durham College
- Durham College - Linking Online and Experiential Learning A hybrid model for apprenticeship education through a partnership between Sault College and Durham College
- Lakehead University - Aboriginal Education: Offering a honours degree program focused on becoming a teacher with the specialization of teaching students of Aboriginal ancestry at Lakehead University
- Lakehead University - From Access to Graduate Programs: An extensive array of learning opportunities for nursing and health science students
- Lambton College - Converting to Hybrid Teaching – Realizing the benefits of blended courses for teaching and learning at Lambton College
- Mohawk College - Blended Learning for Students in Health Sciences and Human Services at Mohawk College
- Mohawk College - Implementing Blended Learning in Language Studies at Mohawk College
- McMaster University - Blended Learning in Introductory Psychology: An IntroPsych blended learning model
- Niagara College - Commitment to Students and Excellence: Developing self-directed learners through iLearn at Niagara College
- Nipissing University - Nipissing College Partnership Plan: Nipissing University’s School of Business Partners with Colleges to Deliver a Business Degree Option
- Queen’s University - Designing First-Year Sociology for the Millennial Generation at Queen’s University
- Queen’s University - Developing a Blended Learning Course for More Engaged Learning in Calculus at Queen’s University
- Queen’s University - Engaging First-Year Students: A Blended Learning Model for Active Learning
- Queen’s University - Strategic Advancement: Moving Ahead with Blended Learning at Queen’s University;
- Queen’s University - Teaching and Learning in a Course in Ancient Humour using a Blended Format at Queen’s University;
- Sault College - Linking Online and Experiential Learning A hybrid model for apprenticeship education through a partnership between Sault College and Durham College
- University of Ottawa - A Science Fiction Course Makes Hybrid Learning Anything but Futuristic at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Canada
- Wilfrid Laurier University - A Blended Course at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, Teaches Students How to Teach Music
- Wilfrid Laurier University - Encouraging Student Independence: A blended learning model for Organic Chemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University
- Université du Québec à Trois Rivières, Québec - Agile Design in a Course on the Integration of Technology in Teaching at l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
- University of Prince Edward Island - The Use of Blogs and Virtual Posters in a Hybrid Course on Issues in Children’s Health and Development at the University of Prince Edward Island