Blended Learning Formats
What are typical Blended Learning formats in Higher Education?
There are countless possibilities to a targeted blended design of your teaching and learning scenario. Above all, the format you choose should suit the goals and principles of your faculty and/or study program while meeting the needs of your students in terms of student-centredness and also student wellbeing. Apart from that, the format you choose will also depend on university regulations, practicalities and necessities.
In this section, we would like to introduce you to some typical formats and methods that are already being used at the University of Freiburg.
The Flipped (or Inverted) Classroom model is one specific type of a Blended Learning scenario. In this scenario, the usual learning activities inside and outside the classroom are "flipped" or turned around, which means that the learning content is no longer taught on-site at the university; rather, students acquire new knowledge asynchronously in advance, at their own pace and in their own approach at home (or independent of location), using digital learning materials, for example video (lectures) that the teacher has compiled or created themselves on the respective topic and prepared didactically. Apart from videos, other media such as text materials, web links or podcasts can also be provided for this purpose. The valuable attendance times at the university (or at least in a virtual classroom) can then be better used for joint, interactive consolidation of the concepts acquired, e.g. through discussions, joint group work etc. This way, flipped learning is a method that helps teachers prioritise active and student-centred learning.
Due to its benefits in terms of added time for joint discussion, interaction and collaboration, the flipped learning concept has become a common approach in EPICUR courses. One of several metastudies conducted on the evidence of flipped learning in higher education revealed "the potential of using flipped classroom in promoting certain learning outcomes (e.g., engagement, attitude, metacognition, performance, self-efficacy, and understanding) across disciplines. The main opportunity offered by the flipped classroom model was related to the development of students’ deep understanding of the materials by providing them with more control over what and how they learn. The flipped classroom was also found to help students to transfer their knowledge between contexts, thus strengthening their conceptual understanding. This also includes facilitating students’ acquisition of information, ideas, and reflects upon their self-learning experiences."
To learn more about evidence of flipped learning in higher education, please browse through these articles:
Small Private Online Course (SPOC)
A Small Private Online Course (SPOC) is a course that is organised online only. It can be best described as a didactically improved version of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) used locally with a restricted group of on-campus students. The term was coined by University of California Berkeley Professor Armando Fox in 2013 to refer to a localized instance of a MOOC course that was in use in a business-to-business context.
SPOCs combines the advantages of MOOCs, i.e. self-paced acquisition of knowledge through interactive videos, readings and task with the benefits of interaction between and among teachers and students. Interaction in SPOCs can take place both asynchronously, e.g. through online forum discussions or other tasks, and synchronously, i.e. in regular or irregular online sessions. Even though it is usually completely online, it is still a blend of different types of synchronicity, locations, social learning arrangements and methods applied.
To learn more about the SPOC format, browse through these articles:
The term "Hybrid learning" is sometimes used as a synonym of any type of "blended learning". It has recently shifted to the narrower meaning of "Blended synchronous learning".
In this sense, a hybrid setting is a situation where one group of students including the teacher is physically present on campus while other students who either do not have that option or choose not to, are virtually present. To make such a setting possible, a setup of additional technical and audiovisual equipment is needed on campus.
Such a blended synchronous setting that allows for a remote participation of students (or also co-teachers and external experts) has great potential for both sides:
From the perspective of Higher Education institutions and also from the perspective of university teachers, this setting is particularly suitable for events where several individual or a group of participants cannot be present, for example, because they are in quarantine, they belong to a health risk group or because of travel restrictions. This has been particularly relevant in times of the pandemic with uncertainty for planning.
But even apart from Covid restrictions, a hybrid setting is well worth considering, simply because it facilitates learning and teaching, and also co-teaching across locations, and it allows for the participation of international students adding cultural diversity to the classroom and increasing equity and inclusion.
From a didactic perspective, hybrid sessions need to be very carefully planned to ensure equally active participation, involvement and interaction of on-campus and online students. Co-teaching and/or co-moderation is, in most cases, highly recommended.
Research on the effectiveness, impact on learning and preconditions required are still scarce. Please browse through these weblinks and studies to learn more:
- Times Higher Education, Higher education goes hybrid: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/collections/higher-education-goes-hybrid
- Lakhal, S., Mukamurera, J., Bédard,M.-E., Heilporn, G., & Chauret, M. (2021). Students andinstructors perspective on blended synchronous learning in aCanadian graduate program.Journal of Computer AssistedLearning,37(5), 1383–1396.https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal .125781396LAKHALET AL.
The following pages may also be of interest to you:
To delve deeper into the topic, take a look at these resources:
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 Al-Samarraie et al, A flipped classroom model in higher education - A review of the evidence across disciplines, 2019.
Zuletzt geändert: 19. Okt. 2022, 15:02, Hutz-Nierhoff, Dorthe [firstname.lastname@example.org]