July 12-13: The What, Why, Who, and How of Blended Learning Study Circle: Day 2, Post 2

While there are many more great things to explore in the LINCS resource, The What, Why, Who, and How of Blended Learning, let's get to our last question of the study circle!

  • Pages 25-27 highlight case studies of programs who are effectively using blended learning models. What sticks out to you the most as to what these programs have in common and how they are innovative?


Kudos to the creators and managers of these case studies for pushing the frontier of learning forward. Some insights:

Common: They all collect data about student learning. I suggest reporting the results relative to content standards or learning outcomes and report which strategies — online, F2F, or both -- had the most and least influence on student achievement of specific outcomes. That's how we strengthen our profession and demonstrate effectiveness to stakeholders.

Innovative: Each case appears to be an innovation that sustains the conventional classroom while adding online components. A disruptive innovation might blend the classroom into a digital learning system and create new roles for teachers to support students in a personalized virtual learning community.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nick! There is certainly an important place for digital learning systems (do you consider these to be the same as learning management systems?) in adult classrooms. Several programs in my area have teachers whose roles have shifted into management of students' virtual portfolios, etc., which is definitely a change. 

I'm glad you mentioned tracking the data as well. One other important element is student surveying to inquire about how students want to learn. One instructor I know surveyed his students to ask how they want to learn going forward even after the learning center opened up. Upwards of 80% voted for blended--an option that had only begun as a result of the pandemic. I find that very interesting!

Digital Learning Systems: I use the term digital learning systems as an umbrella term. An LMS such as Schoology, Moodle, Canvas are example digital learning systems. A professional learning platform is another example, an app focused on mathematics, AI are others and so forth. My preference is the professional learning platform wherein the focus is real world settings, actions expected in the setting, activities to practice the actions, and product development that transfers to the learner's job or goals. I think the virtual portfolio you mentioned is an excellent approach to project or performance-based learning -- Portfolios are an essential part of a professional learning platform.

Blended Learning Preferences: Love the results you shared. In 2013-14, I led a team that developed a workplace wellness curriculum for the CDC that was delivered to small business employers through: 1) in-person only, 2) online only, and 3) blended learning models. The results of delivering the same curriculum through three different models showed that the blended learning employers preferred that model and achieved more than the others. The blended learning sequence for an employer was to complete four core modules online in cohorts of 15 members with the support of a coach. The coach reviewed the results of online practice activities and gave formative feedback. Then, the employers met for a one-day workshop wherein the cohorts -- after working together online -- met F2F to solve problems and build a draft workplace wellness program for their businesses. I've used variations of this blended model in school-based professional learning and graduate education. Those settings also rate blended learning very highly. It has great promise for adult education because it recognizes the application of skills to solve problems and build products that support retention and transfer.