Evidence for blended learning

I’m participating in my first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called BlendKit2012. The reading materials are a great pedagogical resource. Blended learning, as evidenced by numerous studies, is not only more popular with students but results in better student performance.

As cited in the U.S. Department of Education’s (2010) “ Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies,” “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction” (p. xiv) and, notably, “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction” (p. xv). Not only do students perform better in blended courses, but the electronic resources inherent in the modality offer other advantages as well. For example, student performance analytics can be used to study and better understand student learning. Data analytics can also identify students who need early intervention, thus increasing retention. The online tools available in blended courses can also significantly enhance student engagement, ensuring that all students participate in course discussions and benefit from collaborative learning. [source]

For the past year, I had this great Infographic from Educause on my wall. I often pointed out the largest, middle seat to my faculty in this part of the graphic indicating that most students prefer hybrid courses.

I enjoyed learning more about the four types of instruction:

  • Online
  • Facilitated Online
  • Blended
  • Studio-based

Although we have studio classes at our school I never considered it a separate learning approach. Obviously anything hands-on is going to result in more retention and greater interest. I’m going to research this style more and think about how it can be applied to courses that are not studios per se, but would benefit from this model.

I also find that faculty who are new to online instruction seem to assume that online courses are static pre-recorded robo-classes. It’s hard to create a good interactive online or hybrid course. It takes a lot of thought, planning and innovation. I’m looking forward to learning about various approaches that can help my own hybrid course (Web Design) and those that I help others with as part of my job as an Instructional Technology Specialist.

Tamara Swedberg
Instructional Technology Specialist
Edward J Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey