Blended learning is a form of teaching and learning that combines classroom units and online phases. The classroom units and the online phases complement each other in such a way that they create a coherent and meaningful learning experience for the students. The online phases are integral parts of the course and equally important as face-to-face teaching.
What Is Blended Learning?
During the online phases, content is presented to the students in the form of multimedia materials. Based on the principles of Active Blended Learning (Palmer, Lomer & Bashliyska, 2017), student learning in online phases is guided by a well-structured learning environment that offers a balanced mix of input and student activities. The students engage in a range of different learning activities that allow them to apply what they have learned, to practice their skills, and to deepen their knowledge. Teachers support student learning during online phases by providing the students with feedback on their progress and opportunities to interact with their peers and teachers.
In blended learning courses, the face-to-face classroom units should also be interactive to encourage active student participation, for example through group work or discussions with fellow students and teachers.
Blended learning aims to maximize student engagement throughout the course. In the classroom units and the online phases, student engagement takes place on three levels of interactivity: interactivity with content, peers, and teachers.
What do blended learning courses look like at WU?
WU defines blended learning based on five criteria:
Face-to-face teaching in the form of classroom units is reduced
Integration (meshing) of classroom units and online phases in terms of pedagogical goals, content, and time frames
An alternating mix of input and active engagement, achieved by providing well-structured multimedia content and key student activities
Oral, written, or automated feedback on key activities to keep students updated about their progress
Student learning is supported through synchronous (real-time) or asynchronous (deferred) communication with the students
Please Note! Because of the developments around COVID-19 these criteria are undergoing an evaluation at the moment. Basing on this evaluation, the Blended Learning Criteria will be adapted, if necessary. Within the coming weeks, you will find updated information here.
What are the goals WU aims to achieve through blended learning?
By introducing blended learning as a new format of teaching and learning, WU intends to give students greater flexibility in their studies and offer them state-of-the-art learning experiences. In particular, blended learning is intended to promote independent learning and active knowledge acquisition, with a view to increasing levels of academic activity among the students. The blended learning approach also aims to help students develop their digital skills, preparing them for the demands of the job market. In addition, blended learning courses also reduce the need for classrooms on campus and thus help to ease capacity shortages.
Palmer, E., Lomer, S. & Bashliyska, I. (2017). Overcoming barriers to student engagement with Active Blended Learning: Interim report. Northampton: University of Northampton. URL: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/55968517/ABL_Interim_Report.pdf (accessed on: Oct. 11, 2019).