I always find it interesting to hear people’s reactions when the topic of “blended learning” comes up. As soon as these words hang in the air you can see the different thoughts whirling around. Some will stare off in the distance thinking of themselves sitting in their pajamas, drinking coffee, never to be seen by their fellow classmates; while others recall the experience of attending face to face classes every week with only a couple of discussions or information being available online. It seems anything can be called blended learning if it involves being online. Anything goes, and this is where it gets interesting.
The variations for blended learning are endless, and can offer flexibility for students and faculty, and still provide a venue for deep learning! I have been taking classes by distance, for what seems to be an eternity and for the first time I am in a blended learning format. The course is offered both face-to-face and online, and I love it and am learning so much. The class meets face-to-face four Saturdays, for six hours during the semester, and the rest takes place online. For those of us who can’t get there, we connect with video through WebEx.
I must say this format has its advantages. I get to be one of those students who can get up before daylight and participate in class activities, and still continue on with the rest of my day and all its demands. I have time to do my readings, connect with my class team to work on real-life projects, as I am not in the classroom every week. The Saturdays that I am “attending” class are long, but they offer a chance to connect with my fellow classmates – and I can still wear my pajamas. I might miss out on the conversations that take place during the breaks – which can be very meaningful, but for me the benefits of blended learning outweigh any disadvantages.
So if you are considering a blended learning model for your course take the time to look for options, chat with other faculty and engage with the people in VIU’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning to explore what will fit for you, your program, and your students, and see what blended learning might look like – the possibilities are endless.