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Office of Academic Innovation

Teaching Online

Designing a Blended Course

What is Blended Learning?


At Towson University, blended learning (also referred to as hybrid learning) refers to a cohesive learning experience that integrates in-class and out-of-class activities. In blended learning, students and faculty can capitalize on the strengths of both face-to-face instruction and online learning, resulting in more effective pedagogy and increased flexibility. In practical terms, the number of class meetings in in blended courses are reduced and a portion of the course is delivered online.


Blending learning does not mean simply mixing time between face-to-instruction and online learning. Instead, regardless of the amount of time dedicated for either learning environment, instructors make decisions about what activities should occur in or out of the classroom based on learning objectives, activity requirements, and resources.

Click View button below for an illustrated overview of blended learning

 

How can I blend a course?

While we know that a blended course consists of both face-to-face and online components, there is no definitive rule governing which activities should occur in or out of the classroom. Instead, OAI instructional designers recommend that faculty keep the following considerations in mind when designing a blended course:

  1. All activities should be designed to help students reach course goals and unit objectives.

    Think about which combination of in-class and online activities can best help students meet course objectives. The specific goals of your class will help dictate which activities may fit best in each modality. 

  2. Students benefit from time on task. 

    You can use a combination of in-class and online activities to extend the time in which students can discuss topics and grapple with core concepts.

    For example, in order to work through a difficult concept or theory, instructors may first schedule online learning activities (e.g. students read assigned articles, watch a related video, and answer discussion questions in small groups). Then, in a face-to-face session, the instructor can determine which topics were most confusing to students and spend more time on these topics in class. Additionally, the in-class time can be used for hands-on activities to reinforce student understanding.

    Alternately, the faculty member could start with in-class activities that can be continued online.

     

  1. Maximize opportunities for active learning. 

    Whether online or in-person, create activities that include collaborative and cooperative activities where students can help each other make meaning and apply course concepts. Students may use out-of-class time to gather materials in the community that can contribute to a group project. In-class time may be used for case studies and debate.

  2. Utilize the affordances of both learning environments – classroom and online.

    Face-to-face learning allows students to physically interact and collaborate with peers and instructors. Students gain immediate feedback, spontaneous discussion, rapport-building and human connections. Internet technology makes students’ learning more autonomous and flexible, allowing them to access multimedia and interactive Web resources, complete activities with a variety of tools, and process knowledge at their own pace.

    Face-to-face sessions may be better suited for:

 

  • Establishing social presence and support
  • Negotiating expectations and responsibilities
  • Diagnosing students’ conceptual problems and providing immediate feedback
  • Consensus-building activities
  • Role play
  • Student demonstrations of psycho-motor skills
  • Activities that depend on nonverbal communication

Online sessions may be better suited for:

  • In-depth reflection
  • Full-class participation in discussions and collaboration
  • Critical analysis
  • Self-paced learning and practice
  • Quizzes that can be graded automatically (e.g. true/false, multiple choice, or multiple answer questions).

Additional Resources

 

Office of Academic Innovation
Cook Library Room 405
Phone: 410-704-2005
E-mail: oai@towson.edu


 

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