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Blended Learning

Technology and Learning Colleagues,

This begins a discussion on Blended Learning that I hope will take place here over a long period of time. The purpose is to introduce Blended Learning and then to have an in-depth, nuts and bolts discussion about implementing its various approaches, models, strategies, resources opportunities and challenges. The expertise in blended learning resides here in this community of practice. There are many teachers and instructional designers here who do blended learning, and I invite them to share their experience and knowledge. The discussion was sparked by a webinar I did on Friday to launch World Education's new Education Technology Center.

In the the next post I will present a few of the questions posed in the webinar and invite all who would like to, to respond to them.

The webinar recording and my slides are archived at

The free guide I wrote, published by Essential Education, is Blended Learning for the Adult Education Classroom

Links included in my slides are below.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learnbing CoP


David J. Rosen's picture

To begin the discussion, one of the first questions in the webinar, a good place to start, was:

What is Blended Learning?

I'll give you my definition below and I welcome others' thoughts:

Blended Learning is an integrated combination of face-to-face and online learning.

In the webinar someone asked, could the online component be on networked computers, such as a local area network, or does it have to be on the Internet? In my view, for many good reasons, it could be on the Internet or on a network of computers, or on an "Internet in a Box" such as the e-granary, a server where websites have been downloaded and that acts very much like the Internet. These last two options are especially important for situations where access to the Internet isn't possible, for example in most corrections facilities and jails in the U.S., and in countries where access to the Internet is especially difficult or does not exist.

Note the importance of the word "integrated". What happens in face-to-face instruction and learning needs to align with what happens in the online learning component.

Other thoughts on this definition?

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP


David J. Rosen's picture


How can you use blended learning if you don't have access to the Internet in your classroom?

In the webinar last week Sandra Cespedes commented:

I work at a school where there is not access to technology and students have very limited knowledge about technology. Usually I use zaption and keepvid to include some sort of video and discussions in the classroom. Are there any other sites I can explore so my students have more access to blended learning?

Zaption allows you to add short text, quiz questions or notes to YouTube, and perhaps some other, online videos. With Keepvid, or another free video downloading program, you can save YouTube videos (or some kinds of other online videos) to a portable hard drive or flash drive. You can bring that into your classroom and show videos to students using a computer and multimedia projector, or load the videos onto a local area network where students can watch them, for example in a computer lab..

Sandra asked if there are other websites to explore. There are many. One place to start is with the LiteracyList, a free collection of technology resources for adult educators.  Do others here have video websites or other websites to recommend to Sandra?

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP

David J. Rosen's picture

Can YouTube Videos be used in blended learning?


I hope Diana, Debra and perhaps Leanne could say more about that here.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP

Paul Rogers's picture

David, I think that YouTube videos are an excellent addition to any class, and I recommend that teachers create their own. I started with short videos of about 5 minutes for my ESL/EFL course, and placed them on my Facebook page, along with other lessons. It takes some practice to develop an "on-screen persona" and a sense of humor helps, people like to see a smile on the face of their teacher.

Eventually all of the YouTube videos can be edited to create DVDs of one hour for students to take home.

Also anyone can enroll in a Public Access TV station to air their DVD classes to the community, as a way of publicity and generating interest.


Debra Hargrove's picture

HI David and all,

Actually, I think it was Diana who mentioned the BlendedSpaces project. I'd commented on what a great site it was. But I certainly can't pass up an opportunity to share my thoughts on using YouTube and other VIDs in Blended Learning. We've started a new initiative here at TRAIN PD/TCALL, called "Tech and Tells." Every Thursday night at 8 and Friday at 11:30, we provide a one hour webinar on effective tech tools that teachers and program managers can add to their "effective learning and managing" backpacks. Each webinar is recorded via webex, and then we are uploading the recordings to our YouTube Channel. Here's where we take it a step farther. We started receiving emails from teachers who were unable to attend either session and they wanted to know if they watched the recording, how they could receive PD credit for their time.  

We wanted a way to bring in some interaction for those who were watching the recordings, so we created a professional Zaption account and we use Zaption to create our own video Tours. While you can use videos from almost any video website, you can also upload your own in Zaption. So they watch the recording of the Tech and Tell, and then peppered throughout the "Tour" we added a handful of questions or comment prompts. We're in the process of moving them all into our shiny new LMS, which allow them to print out their own certificate of participation. This is a great Pre Work activity for any Face to Face workshop and we really love it. Oh, and EdPUzzle is also a great alternative to Zaption. Check that one out too!



David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Deb,

Very exciting!

Are the recorded Tech and Tells webinars available for public viewing on your YouTube channel? If so, could you provide the web address here? (Out-of-staters, of course, wouldn't expect PD credit from TX!)

Would it be possible to see any of your Zaption video tours? Some people here (I among them) might be interested to see what they look like and how you are using Zaption.


David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP

Steve Quann's picture

Hi David and others,

Here is a Tech Tip on Zaption we did last year. See an example and lesson ideas:

Steve Quann

Leanne Ovalles's picture


As David Rosen mentioned above I have used YouTube Videos embedded in a Blendspace platform in my Pre-Employment Program at Crossroads RI where we serve adults experiencing homelessness. My students all have the goal of securing employment, but come with varying levels of work experience, education and technology skills.  I choose Blendspace as a platform because it allowed me to share and sequence resources (mainly YouTube videos) for independent work.  I created a hard copy handout for students to respond to the videos, rather than using some of the 'cool' features of Blendspace so that all students could access the lesson regardless of their computer skills.  I have successfully used the interview lesson   with many students in the past year and have created another similar lesson using YouTube Videos about how to make the most of a job fair

I have also used Blendspace to share YouTube Videos in the hopes of providing some inspiration/motivation for my students.  I shared one short video (no more than 5 minutes) each day as a morning ritual to start the day off on a positive note.  I tried a collection of varied videos to see what seemed resonate with students and found that it really varied depending on the individual student. Here is a sample of some of the resources I shared

I hope this information is helpful and I'd be more than happy to answer any questions folks may have.

Leanne Ovalles

Workforce Development Supervisor

Education & Employment Services

Crossroads Rhode Island

Phone: 401-521-2255 x139

David J. Rosen's picture

Thanks Leanne.

One of the questions asked in the webinar was whether or not hard copy materials could be used in blended learning. You have given a great example of why the answer is often "yes".

I like that you also use videos for daily inspiration. (We need daily inspiration for students and for ourselves. For many of us, I think, TED talks have been providing that.)

I have a few questions: How do you make and edit videos? What equipment do you use? Do you use editing software? If so, what?  What have you learned from doing this? What tips do you have for others who may try this?

I wonder if anyone else has questions for Leanne about her blended learning approach, or about making or using videos for her adult education students.


David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP

Edward Latham's picture

So many develop a great asynchronous experience and some others develop great face to face experiences. If the two types of activities are disjointed or don't flow together well, the experience leaves learners often unfocused, frustrated or disgruntled with the experience. It is important to acknowledge how hard it is to make this integrated flow. If teaching is an art, Effective Blended Learning is like a museum curator that brings out the best options available to facilitate everyone's diverse tastes and needs while still giving a standardized tour.  

David J. Rosen's picture

Ed and others,

Integration of face-to-face and online learning in blended learning is essential. Do you -- does anyone -- have specific suggestions or tips to make this integration flow?

For example, can a teacher build this into curriculum design? Is this something that a teacher needs to be on top of daily? If so, how?

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP


David J. Rosen's picture

Paul Rogers asked, in a post leading up to this discussion, if there is an increase in using technology in general, and a trend in Blended/Distance learning.

I sense that there is a growing interest in K-12, in higher education and also in adult basic skills education in integrating technology, and in using blended learning approaches in particular. The webinar I offered on Blended Learning on Friday had very large number of people signed up, and a good turnout. The guide I wrote has been widely distributed. The presentations I have been doing at national conferences have been very well attended. I see a lot of references to Blended Learning as a trend in publications such as those by Digital Promise, EdSurge, and elsewhere.

Having said that, there isn't much research yet on Blended Learning for adult basic skills, and I think we are in period of innovation and experimentation. We know what approaches adult educators are taking, in a general way, but we do not yet know what models are being used or developed in adult basic skills education. We also do not have research on their effectiveness. Perhaps as this discussion continues we will all know more about this trend, what people in our field are doing with Blended Learning, and what models are emerging.

I also see a trend in adult basic skills education of pure distance learning becoming more like blended learning. For example, The University of Michigan's Project IDEAL, in a publication before founder Jere Johnston retired, had some great vignettes of distance education practices that had become blended learning.

I would love to hear others' answers to Paul's Question.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP

Paul Rogers's picture

David, your point about DL becoming Blended classes is very important. Many adults find it difficult to attend 'live' classes on a regular basis, but will enroll in a DL program at first. Then, as they progress, they may start to feel more comfortable and sign up for a Blended class. In some cases we can set up a modified program, a blended class that is flexible with respect to attendance. A "Drop-In" center is a good model.




David J. Rosen's picture

Paul, and others

It is also possible to start with face-to-face instruction -- for those who are not (yet) comfortable with online learning -- and increasingly introduce online learning in the classroom, gradually reducing face-to-face time and increasing online time. In this model, at first the face-to-face might be 100%, but with 10% or 20% of that time online in the classroom, with a teacher and/or volunteers to help students get comfortable using desktop computers, laptops or portable digital devices such as tablets and smartphones. After a few weeks -- how many weeks might vary for each student depending on how long it takes them to get comfortable -- the face-to-face time might drop to 20%, and the online time, outside the classroom, might increase to 80%.

This model might not be difficult to implement in a community-based or volunteer program that used an open entry-open exit model and that had teaching aides or volunteers in the classroom to help students, especially new students who were not yet comfortable using the technology. During the initial face-to-face time, comfort and trust would be built with the teacher and volunteers, the same people who students would continue to see both in gradually reduced face-to-face time and increasingly online in asynchronous or real-time responses to, and assistance with, their online learning.

I refer to what I have described as a tapered model. I am looking for examples of where that might already exist? Anyone know of any?

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP

Paul Rogers's picture

David, to add to your list of models I would include all the free, online courses, lessons, etc. which are used by everyone it seems, and which at this point are almost totally independent from “official” and “formal” programs.

Students become teachers, helping friends and family navigate sites and lessons. I like the phrase: “Each one teach one.”

I tapped into this reservoir by including ESL lessons for adults on my Facebook page about a year ago.

Anyone with a Facebook account can add groups to the page, and offer membership in the groups for free.

I began with a PUMAROSA group, and then added Pronunciation, Songs and Readings.

In addition I built two websites with lessons on WIX and WIKI SPACES. I pay only $50 a year for the Wix page. Wiki Spaces is free to teachers.

And I also create short videos to put on YouTube, which in turn are placed on my Facebook page.

I do not “teach” in the usual sense, but rather answer questions and put up lessons on certain subjects. Pronunciation is very popular and everyone likes to “study” the lyrics to popular songs in English.

Lately I have started to chat with students in the form a short class.

As of now there are a total of 2500+ members in the groups. I do not have statistics about what they study or how much, etc.

Lately I have been adjusting my Wix and Wiki pages for mobile use. In this way when Pumarosa is finally available on mobile devices, everyone will be able to study English anytime and anyplace.

I think an approach like the above can easily be developed by any adult ed program, and would be an enormous help in attracting students and providing a service to the community.


Edward Latham's picture

I agree, David, that the energy around blended learning has been increasing. Many love the increased options of including students that face transportation issued, or busy work schedules they can't work around or the many other normal challenges that blended learning may offer solutions for. The resources and training to establish good blended learning are hard to find because the effectiveness and even some means to explore the effectiveness are not fully developed yet. There is certainly promise, but I remain concerned that without shifting our pedagogy, the promise of blended learning will quickly fade.

Imagine a truck driver trying to drive a formula 1 race car the same way. The power and effectiveness of the race car is hardly exposed because the truck driver has simply never raced (apologies out there to professional racers that also drive truck wink)  If one were to evaluate the race car based on the truck driver's performance, many might quickly dismiss the race car as being useful or powerful in any way. I would hate to see blended learning go down a similar path. I question how we research the effectiveness of the concept, when the pedagogy employed may have a much greater impact on learner's successes. 

S Jones's picture

Last year I tripped over an online course about blended learning from Florida -- it's at  .  I was thrilled at the resources that dug into just what kinds of practices would be likely to keep students engaged and moving forward, whether the online parts or the face-to-face parts.   You could actually design a course through the course (which I didn't because I'm not teaching courses and I was also doing the OER course through LINCS and AIR).   

I think it's really important to figure out what kinds of things we want the students to do and learn, and then find the tools to effect that -- and use them to build competencies and more complex skills.   A real hazard of "blending" is fragmenting things and having students fail to make connections that are necessary for the stuff to make real sense.   

S Jones's picture

Canvas learning also has some offerings, including a placement-test-prep course that was done out in Utah.   It was open to anyone online but they also had open learning labs w/ faculty and TA help available.   (I want to email the teacher & see how many people availed themselves of the help...) 

David J. Rosen's picture


After you select the webinar recording link, select "Playback", not "Download". If you were registered for the webinar it should begin to stream in a few seconds. If not, there may be extra steps, such as setting up Webex for your browser. If you have difficulty playing the webinar, email World Education EdTech Center Media Specialist for help.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning coP

David J. Rosen's picture


One of the questions in last week's blended learning webinar was:

Can Open Education Resourves (OER) help on blended leatrning?

  • In the webinar Penny Pearson suggested, (math), an she said there are many, many more OER
  • In the webinar Tonya Crum suggested for free resources aligned to standards - videos, lesson plans, images.

This raises two questions for me:

1) Penny and others, what are some of the other OER sites you think might be useful to adult education teachers who are designing their own blended learning websites?

2) Penny, or someone, could you spell out the differences between free online resource and OER.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP



David J. Rosen's picture

Integrating Technology Colleagues,

Getting back to a topic introduced in this LINCS CoP group in 2015, Blended Learning, I would like to recommend a recent Digital Promise webinar that Jen Vanek did. Jen is the Director of the IDEAL Consortium at World Education, a group of states that use distance and/or blended learning. She's also a member of this LINCS Integrating Technology group.

In the webinar, she offers definitions of blended, hybrid and supplemental online learning and, among other things, Jen talks about involved learning in a blended learning context. You'll find the archived video of this webinar here. (Tip: you can skip the introductions and begin Jen's presentation at 6 minutes, 50 seconds.)  If, after watching the video, you have questions about blended learning, post them here and Jen, or other blended learning experts may be able to answer them.


David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS COP Integrating Technology group