The blended classroom: Designing effective blended learning courses

Research has shown that a blended approach to learning improves both quality and quantity. So what is blended learning and how can you apply it?

By Kasper Spiro on Jul 30th

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Typically, a blended classroom will be made up of face-to-face learning as well as online material to complete alone at the learners’ own pace. As an instructor, the whole process can seem somewhat overwhelming at first, particularly if you have decades of experience in just face-to-face learning. So we’ve compiled our top tips for designing a blended classroom model and applying this learning approach. With these tips, you should be able to create a course that’s not only effective but will enable you to create the perfect blended classroom!

Blended classroom models

Flipped classroom

In a flipped classroom you flip the normal educational structure, and the homework will be done in class and the lesson will be followed at home. This way the teacher will be able to focus more on helping the students apply the content and focus more on the higher-level learning skills. At home, via an e-learning course, the students learn at their own pace, repeating or fast-forwarding through the lesson as needed.

One organization using Easygenerator in their blended learning approach is LECOM. At LECOM, one way that they flip their classroom is by using Easygenerator to create an e-learning course that can include readings, videos, questions, and quizzes, which the students take at home. Then when they come back to class they:

  • Discuss the training
  • Are given another quiz
  • Break into groups to discuss a given scenario
  • Break into groups to discuss questions given them in the e-learning
  • Discuss the questions as a group

Pre-teaching

This method allows the learners to study the preliminary material/lesson before the actual training session. This pre-teaching, or pre-onboarding, enables the learners to stay prepared and avoid repetition of the basics in the classroom. Consequently, the trainer’s time can be used for discussion and queries in class time.

Retention

To improve the quality of the learning of your students, you need to make sure there is retention. What the students learn fades away in a short period of time. To retain what they have learned, repetition is needed. E-learning is an easy solution to deal with this issue. To check and guarantee the retention, create an online course or test.

Electrolux is another organization using Easygenerator in their blended course design. Electrolux incorporates e-learning into their course design in the following ways:

  • Preparation before face-to-face training – to ensure attendees have the same base level of knowledge
  • Repetition after face-to-face training – to ensure that key lessons learned do not succumb to the forgetting curve

Insider tips for your blended course design

Course Rhythm

In recent times, we have seen many instructors simply stick some online learning onto their traditional face-to-face courses whilst hoping for the best. If you do this, you might not see the best results because you need to approach it with a different mindset. Rather than being an add-on to your course, the two types of learning should be integrated with one another to form a well-oiled machine.

If we use an example, some courses will take place on a Wednesday and then two days later on Friday. If done correctly, the content on Friday should complement what happened two days earlier and build on what was learned. Essentially, the second day should always solidify knowledge but in a slightly different way; perhaps you want to apply it to a real-life example rather than keeping it as a purely theoretical process. On Friday, you then want to preview what will happen the next Wednesday and so on.

Content v Mode

When building a blended learning course, you need to understand the difference between content and mode. With content, this explains the instructional materials including lectures, assignments, and readings. On the other hand, mode describes the method in which the information is provided such as discussion boards, textbooks, videos. When you differentiate these two factors, you can soon work out which is the best form of delivery for the end-user. With lectures, for example, they can be given both inside and outside of class using online resources. If interaction is important during the lecture, you might decide to go for in-class lectures because you can include various activities and peer instructions.

Plan Learning Time

Finally, we recommend planning when each piece of learning actually occurs within your blended course design. When feedback is required or you would prefer the learners to work together to build on their knowledge, this will need in-class sessions. With homework, reading, and these tasks, learning can take place at home. Essentially, you want to build a learning map of when and how they will learn each step of the process. By doing this, you almost control their progress whilst offering sessions to build on knowledge after the initial learning.

For many, the blended course design process is one filled with stress and it can take up to six months. Therefore, you must always remain patient and determined because the results will come if you do it correctly. If possible, have tests continuously so you can receive feedback and keep improving the course. If you do this and follow the tips above, there is no reason why your blended learning course can’t be a hit with the learners!

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About the author

Kasper Spiro is the CEO of Easygenerator and a recognized thought leader in the world of e-learning. With over 30 years of experience, he is a frequently asked keynote speaker and well-renowned blogger within the e-learning community.

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