Blended Learning


 I have been involved with e-learning for the past ten years, starting with some pilot high school courses back in the 90s.  From that early stage I tended to think of e-learning as something distinct from face-to-face learning, critical of comparing face-to-face and e-learning, arguing that we can benefit from working form a completely different model when it comes to e-learning.  What I did not think about a great deal in those early years was the idea of blended learning, a phrase that is showing up in the literature more today.  So, when I present, I often use this image to explain three phases that people often go through when thinking about e-learning.  The first phase is often trying to force face-to-face strategies into an e-learning settings.  This often involves assigned readings, papers, and video lectures.  While there is nothing wrong with these, the next phase involves realizing that the digital world is a completely different environment from the physical classroom, and that this digital world affords many new teaching strategies.  Virtual tours, webquests, interactive simulations, creative threaded discussion strategies are some of the ideas that come from this phase.  A final phase that seems to be taking place in many schools is a blending of face-to-face and e-learning.  It is a realization that the boundaries between f2f and online are not necessary.  Why not take the best of both worlds, blending them to create the best possible learning experience?  This is likely the future of e-learning in many schools.  It may be blended on a course level, with some learning activities online and others f2f.  It may also take place on a program level, with some courses f2f, some online, and some as f2f/online hybrid courses. 


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