Blended learning has been around since the mid to late 90’s. I developed and instructed my first blended course back in 1996-97 and we referred to this form of instruction as alternative delivery or computer-mediated instruction. Today you will also see terms like hybrid, technology-mediated instruction, web-enhanced instruction, mixed-mode instruction and the current flavor of the day the flipped classroom. The term blended learning really took hold when Bonk and Graham published the first Handbook of Blended Learning back in 2005.

In a blended course a significant amount of the course work has been moved online. Face2face time or seat time has been reduced. The online components of the course are done instead of face2face time and not in addition to. If well designed, a blended course can offer the best of both worlds. The online components of the course can be used for information transfer with the goal of preparing the students for the limited and valuable face2face where the instructor can lead students much deeper into the learning objectives of the course. This enables the instructor to lecture less which changes their role from sage on the stage to a guide on the side as they lead the students through discussions and other collaborative activities in the face2face setting.

Over the years many resources have been developed and several books have been about Blended Learning. I am always on the lookout for the next best blended learning resources but I continually keep on returning to the Faculty Development for Blended Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee/Sloan Consortium 

The primary reason I encourage my colleagues to use these resources is that they have put a priority on purposeful design and start from the learning outcomes/objectives. So many other resources start with the blending activities but until you are clear on what you want your students to learn/do (based on the course learning outcomes) you run the risk have having great blending activities but no alignment to the learning outcomes. If you want to take your learners deeper then you need to start with your learning outcomes.

Even though these resources were developed in 2008 they are still current because they address the fundamental design issues that really haven’t change significantly. Other than the incorporation of social media into courses all the examples would apply to the present day.

I encourage you to review all the resources on the site but if you are pressed for time then consider reviewing the following resources in this order:

  • Ten Questions: “Ten Questions for Blended Course Redesign” presentation by Alan Aycock
  • Student support: “Helping your students in a blended course” presentation by Alan Aycock
  • Backwards design: “Designing a learning module for a blended course” presentation by Alan Aycock
  • Integration: “Strategies for integrating online and face-to-face in blended learning” presentation by Alan Aycock, Tanya Joosten, and Amy Mangrich
  • Content delivery: “Content delivery in blended and fully online courses” presentation by Amy Mangric.

The example presentations and other related presentations make more sense once you have the pedagogical foundation to appreciate why things are being done. You also don’t have to listen to the presentation but can view the slides and the transcript which could save you some time

For a more recent perspective on blended learning and a really good definition of the newer models you should look at

WARNING – this site has a K-12 focus and if you follow the Resources link to their Blended Learning Universe While these resources do have a K-12 focus the principles still apply to higher education.

Additional Higher Ed focused resources you can consider include:


Source: Jourl Blog – Top Ten Myths About the Human Brain

In the article 4 Lessons Learned from Higher Ed Tech Failures in 2014 Tanya Roscorla suggests that to prevent failure of Ed Tech projects administrators must:

  1. Become smarter about running experiments, which usually include technology
  2. Figure out how to scale innovations that are working
  3. Watch smaller schools to see how they approach technology because they have more freedom to innovate
  4. Recognize that universities are in a turbulent period of time and identify the cost of being wrong about education technology

While these are salient points and should be factors to consider Roscorla has missed the fundamental issue that needs to be addressed if your organization is to be successful in deploying Ed Tech effectively. Ed Tech should be used to enhance the learning environment rather be used as a magic bullet to change the way that students, faculty, staff and administrators work in the educational environment.

All too often in Higher Ed technology is deployed and everyone has to adopt to the technology rather then find the appropriate technology that can be adopted to the learning environment. The starting point for all technology related projects in Higher Ed should be the learning. This means that we look to the needs of the learner and faculty first, then the staff and administration.

Unfortunately, most administrators in Higher Ed do not have enough knowledge and experience with Ed Tech so decisions regarding the selection and support of the technology are most often off loaded to IT departments. Even though IT departments are focused on serving the user their priority is to help the user to deal with the technology that the IT department has chosen to deploy. If the priority is the technology then it makes perfect sense to pay attention to technology testing, scalability, technology deployments at other institutions, and costs.

However, if the priority is the learner then issues like flexibility, usability, mobility and adaptability are paramount because the technology needs to adapt to the learning environment and support the learning. IT should play a support role in selecting the technology but the primary selection should fall upon an advisory group comprised of faculty, students and other learning support staff who understand the importance of putting the needs of the learner first.

The fundamental question needs to be asked–who does Ed Tech serve? The learner or administration and IT. Until we start focusing on the learning we will continue to see significant Ed Tech project failures.

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