Monday, February 23, 2015

BlendKit2015: Understanding Blended Learning

Today, I began a MOOC (courtesy of the University of Central Florida and Canvas) titled, "BlendKit2015."  It is a class designed to teach best practices for creating a Blended course.  For the next several weeks I will be posting reflections and ideas based on the knowledge I gain while taking the course.

Chapter 1 Reflection: Understanding Blended Learning.

Because I  have limited knowledge on the subject of blended learning, I found it interesting to discover that the desired result of teaching a blended course isn't any different than the desired result of a traditional class setting.  That is, if technology were taken out of the equation, the philosophy remains: the teacher plans lessons based on learning objectives; and the struggle remains as to what is the best approach for student mastery of those objectives.

So if, theoretically, the desired result is the same in both styles of teaching, the difference lies in the design of the course.  It was mentioned in Chapter 1 that learning activities within a blended course should  be focused around the objectives.  Therefore, before planning a blended course design, it is imperative that the designer fully understand the objectives to be met and mastered.  Only when the objectives have been defined should the learning activities be incorporated.  Then it must be decided which activities are better learned face to face and which can be learned online through technology applications.

Of course, the application of technology is another main difference when teaching a blended learning style versus a traditional classroom style.  One important thing to note is that blended course content should be focused around the expected learning to occur as opposed to the technology that will be incorporated within the course.  One of the ideas mentioned in the chapter that stuck with me most was the idea that the technology in a blended course should really go unnoticed by the learner.  In other words, it is a supplement to the lesson and should be very learner directed if the intention of the activity is for students to gain knowledge.  If any teacher interaction is needed to complete the technology application(s) within the course it should be as facilitator.

My real take from the chapter was achieved after reading the two case studies.  The second study hit home when the course designer, Ms. Crichton, mentioned that her course structure hasn't changed much over the past 14 years but the interactive activities have changed quite a  bit.  She mentions that as technology evolves she is able to make changes that can potentially better engage her students which, in turn, can lead to more personalized learning.  Her testament is reassuring to me, especially since my idea for a blended course revolves around creating district-wide teacher trainings that would incorporate best practices for teaching in a 21st century classroom.


  1. Shannon,
    Like you, I found the similarities between blended and traditional approaches telling - it seems more things change the more they stay the same. The fundamental goal of any learning situation is acquiring and using new skills and knowledge, which can be enhanced, or detracted, by the tools, strategies and techniques we, as instructors, choose to use. I think the most challenging part is finding the right balance, and knowing the content and participants well enough to choose the best tools to do the job.

    I also found the case studies interesting, as my teaching world was limited to elementary students by day, and teachers during the evenings and summers. Like Ms. Crichton, I taught as the technology evolved and worked to create a instructional design that used the available technology. For any of us who have been around a while, we know that the technology is always changing, so I think being able to adapt, adjust, and be flexible with the technology will better serve us as we blend our classrooms.

    Finally, I'd like to share this resource I developed many years ago, based on the Inspired Classroom Model. Looking through your blog, it seems we share similar goals for technology integration.

    1. Thank you so much for your response as well as the link to your site. I have bookmarked it and look forward to studying it!