Even before the current COVID-19 health crisis, “blended learning” was one of the most discussed and researched teaching approaches or modalities in higher education. As
Greater reliance on blended learning may be what a post-COVID-19 higher education landscape will turn to for a variety of reasons, so a better conceptual understanding is much needed (P.1).”
So what is blended learning? How is blended learning best facilitated in higher education? Why does blended learning matter? How can we advance blended learning practices? What is the future of blended learning? If you are looking for answers to these questions, the upcoming course “Making Blended Education Work” on the FutureLearn platform might be for you.
This free online course developed as part of the EMBED project is designed for people involved in leading the design, implementation and research into blended learning in higher education. It covers topics relevant to institutional leaders, learning technologists, practitioners, and researchers who are interested in blended learning related research and implementation strategy. The course, which the NIDL was pleased to co-author with our EMBED partners, starts through FutureLearn on 11th May.
One of the first questions we explore in Week 1 is the thorny issue of the definition of blended learning. There are many variations on the concept of blended learning at different ends of a definitional spectrum, and in this respect the course makes an important distinction between blended learning, blended teaching and blended education. By the time participants get to the final week of the course they will have an opportunity to critically reflect on some of the different perspectives and underlying assumptions of the Blended Education Maturity Model, as we challenge educators to question the future of blended learning in a post-digital world. This discussion will be facilitated by Mark Brown and Mairead Nic Giolla Mhichil from the NIDL where they will also ask how might blended learning take on a different face or new significance in the post COVID-19 era?
Whether the course is able to fully answer these questions will depend on your own perspective. As
“Perhaps blended learning is best considered an evolving process. Instructors change their blends during a semester, or from year to year, depending on several factors. One semester the blend works well—the next semester, much less effectively. So how does one answer the question, “Does blended learning work?” The question creates a recurring problem because of blended learning’s complexity and emergent properties where the whole is more than the sum of its parts” (P.17).