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New whitepaper highlights benefits of combining physical/online teaching

Morten Fahlvik is an education researcher at itslearning. One of his main focus areas is helping teachers exploit the benefits of blended learning environments. For more information about Mr Fahlvik, visit http://linkd.in/1b8whfD.

Do the teachers in your school take advantage of the opportunities offered by the blended classroom?

More than ten years have passed since professors Heather Kanuka and Randy Garrison at the University of Calgary defined blended learning as “the thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences”. It is still my favourite definition of blended learning as it emphasises the aspect of thoughtfulness. Kanuka and Garrison point out that no two blended learning designs are identical and that blended teaching requires teachers to be familiar with the characteristics of both face-to-face instruction and online learning spaces.

In addition to the traditional classroom and online learning spaces we have included "at home" (or outside school) as a significant learning arena. These three learning arenas combine to form a model called the blended classroom. The blended classroom can enhance the learning process if teachers manage to utilise these three arenas thoughtfully.

But what does a good blended teaching design look like?

Our latest whitepaper titled ‘The blended classroom’ demonstrates the benefits afforded to teachers who plan and conduct their teaching and learning activities in the blended classroom. It includes an example from primary school teacher Stine, who reaps these benefits while teaching reading comprehension in Norway. Stine's teaching practice is inspired by Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI) that was developed by Professor John T. Guthrie at the University of Maryland. It also includes important elements from concepts like assessment for learning, visible learning and the flipped classroom.

The other example in the whitepaper describes how Mattias, a science teacher in Sweden, takes advantage of the blended classroom while teaching physics. Mattias, like Stine, measures student background knowledge and uses it as the basis for the learning journey. He activates his students in the blended classroom with the intent of raising the quality of student homework and better utilising classroom time.

Both teachers demonstrate a deep understanding of the characteristics of the three arenas of the blended classroom, but they also understand the potential offered by the intersections between these learning arenas. The result is a thoughtful integration of the opportunities available.

We hope that these teachers’ practices will inspire others to design their teaching for a blended classroom, thus taking advantage of its enormous potential.

‘The blended classroom’ whitepaper is available on our website.

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