Welcome to the latest installment in our series on blended learning. In our previous posts, we’ve explored what blended learning is and delved into its strengths and weaknesses. We’ve also examined various models of blended learning. Continuing this comprehensive exploration, today’s post focuses on practical examples of blended learning in action.
Drawing from peer-reviewed research papers, I’ve made sure to include diverse and illustrative examples that showcase how blended learning is being implemented across different educational contexts. These examples provide valuable insights into the real-world application of blended learning strategies, offering a window into how this approach is transforming the educational landscape.
To refresh your mind, blended learning is an educational approach that combines traditional classroom teaching methods with digital and online media. It aims to provide a more integrated learning experience, leveraging both face-to-face teacher guidance and the flexibility of online resources. This approach allows for a personalized learning journey, accommodating different learning styles and needs, and often involves some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace of learning.
Blended Learning Examples
Here are five examples of blended learning I uncovered from the research literature in this field:
1.. Carol J. Auster‘s Study
In an innovative approach to blended learning, Carol J. Auster (2016) integrated screencasts into her Introductory Sociology course, applying what she describes as a supplemental model. This model maintained the traditional structure of classroom time but introduced an additional element: screencasts viewed outside of class.
These screencasts, essentially videos capturing computer screen output with audio commentary, were designed to supplement in-class learning. Auster’s primary objectives were to enrich in-class discussions and provide students with resources to review key concepts and theoretical perspectives at their convenience. This method aimed to leverage the best of both worlds — the interactivity and immediacy of classroom instruction, and the flexibility and depth offered by digital resources.
2. Fabbian et al.’s Study
In their research paper “Lessons Learned: Design and Implementation of Italian Blended Language Courses“, the authors Fabbian et al (2017) provide a number of interesting examples of blended learning in Italian language courses. Students were assigned online grammar, lexical modules, cultural and listening activities to be completed at home.
These activities were designed to prepare students for F2F classes that focused on conversation, discussion, collaborative work, and analytical work. The authors emphasized the importance of integrating online preparatory assignments with F2F sessions and follow-up online assignments.
The authors also discussed how they adjusted the course content and structure based on their experiences and student feedback, highlighting the dynamic nature of implementing blended learning strategies
3. Mackenzie O’Connor Kaspar
In their research paper entitled “Blended Learning as a Transformative Pedagogy for Equity,” Mackenzie O’Connor Kaspar (2018) features an example of blended learning in an English classroom showcasing its potential to engage students in meaningful and relevant discussions. The unit included full-length books such as “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou and “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson, supplemented with texts that prompted students to consider societal structures and oppressive institutions.
For instance, students reading Angelou’s book were provided with videos on redlining, privilege, and cultural appropriation, linking their reading to contemporary issues. A key aspect of this blended learning approach was fostering student dialogue and collaboration.
While only one formal group discussion was required, students often engaged in frequent, informal interactions, discussing texts, giving feedback, and co-constructing knowledge. This flexible structure allowed students to engage in learning socially or work independently according to their preferences.
From the instructor’s perspective, implementing this blended learning approach presented several challenges. Designing materials for the four-week unit required considerable effort to create diverse pathways for different novels. Additionally, some students initially struggled with the academic freedom and time management required in this new learning environment.
To address these issues, the instructor provided a flex structure model through a short story unit to help students practice goal setting and time management. Special attention was given to students unfamiliar with digital literacy practices to ensure this did not hinder their learning.
The instructor reportedly enjoyed the shift from traditional teaching to a more facilitative and mentoring role. This change was significant, especially as students engaged with complex questions about privilege and power in society. The blended learning format enabled the instructor to work individually with students, facilitate small group discussions connected to their texts, and deliver targeted formative assessments.
4. Yvonne M. Luna and Stephanie A. Winters’s Study
In their study “Why Did You Blend My Learning?” by Yvonne M. Luna and Stephanie A. Winters (2017) compares student success in lecture-based and blended learning Introduction to Sociology courses. The study, conducted at a large public university, explored differences in learning outcomes using grades and pre-posttests.
The study found no significant differences in exam scores and final grades between the two formats. However, the blended class showed greater improvement on the pre-to-post test. The study also noted that students of color and non-first year students in the blended class had significantly greater improvement compared to similar subgroups in the lecture class.
The findings suggest that blended learning, particularly with a flipped pedagogy focused on active learning, may be more effective than traditional lecture methods, especially in reducing the achievement gap between white and non-white students.
5. Linda De George‐Walker &Mary Keeffe’s Study
In their study, “Self-Determined Blended Learning: A Case Study of Blended Learning Design,” Linda De George‐Walker and Mary Keeffe (2010) focus on a distinctive approach to blended learning that emphasizes self-determination and personalized learning paths. This case study explores a blended learning design implemented in a higher education context, showcasing how such an approach can be tailored to meet diverse student needs and learning styles.
The core of this blended learning model is the integration of both online and traditional face-to-face educational methods, but with a unique twist. Unlike conventional models where the course structure is rigidly defined, this approach offers students significant autonomy in choosing their learning path. The online components of the course include various digital resources, interactive modules, and forums that students can engage with at their own pace. These are complemented by in-person sessions that focus on deeper discussion, application of concepts, and collaborative activities.
Instructors, in this blended setting, act more as facilitators and mentors, guiding students through their chosen paths and ensuring that the learning objectives are met. This case study exemplifies how blended learning can be adapted to encourage greater student involvement and independence, leading to potentially more effective and personalized educational outcomes.
6. Moore et al.’s Study
In the study “Using Blended Learning in Training the Public Health Workforce in Emergency Preparedness,” Moore and colleagues (2006) investigate the utility of a blended learning approach in public health emergency training. The study demonstrates the benefits of integrating online learning tools with traditional classroom methods, enhancing the efficiency and reach of the training.
This blend not only ensures uniformity in content delivery across a wide audience but also enhances learner engagement and satisfaction, proving particularly useful in adapting to the fast-evolving field of public health.
Further, the study underscores the cost-effectiveness of this approach, highlighting its potential to offer high-quality training while managing resources efficiently. By catering to diverse learning styles and needs, blended learning in this context supports a more thorough and accessible training process.
This adaptability and efficiency make it a valuable model for rapidly and effectively training public health professionals, especially in critical areas like emergency preparedness where timely and comprehensive training is crucial.
The examples from peer-reviewed research papers I shared with you above demonstrate blended learning’s versatility and effectiveness in various settings, from public health training to higher education. These insights serve as a valuable resource for educators and stakeholders looking to implement or enhance blended learning strategies in their own contexts. Stay tuned for further discussions and explorations in the realm of modern educational methods.
Auster, C. J. (2016). Blended Learning as a Potentially Winning Combination of Face-to-face and Online Learning: An Exploratory Study. Teaching Sociology, 44(1), 39–48. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24887557
Fabbian, C., Carney, E. Z., & Grgurović, M. (2017). Lessons Learned: Design and Implementation of Italian Blended Language Courses. Italica, 94(2), 314–353. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44983583
Kaspar, M. O. (2018). Blended Learning as a Transformative Pedagogy for Equity. The English Journal, 107(6), 54–60. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26610194
Linda De George‐Walker & Mary Keeffe (2010) Self‐determined blended learning: a case study of blended learning design, Higher Education Research & Development, 29:1, 1-13, DOI: 10.1080/07294360903277380
Luna, Y. M., & Winters, S. A. (2017). “Why Did You Blend My Learning?” A Comparison of Student Success in Lecture and Blended Learning Introduction to Sociology Courses. Teaching Sociology, 45(2), 116–130. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26429282
Moore, G. S., Perlow, A., Judge, C., & Koh, H. (2006). Using Blended Learning in Training the Public Health Workforce in Emergency Preparedness. Public Health Reports (1974-), 121(2), 217–221. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20056945