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Blended learning – more than a couple of words

February 27th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

To be honest, when the term ‘Blended Learning’ first appeared I was somewhat underwhelmed. It seemed to me rather silly. After all most learning is blended. We use different media and mix together learning from different sources. And equally what teaching does not mix together different activities and media. I used to train trainers in the pre-computer age. I remember much of our time was spent on widening the repertoire of what we called – I think – teaching methods. These included such things as brainstorming, card sorts, fish bowl sessions, action learnings sets fifty ideas for ice breakers – and so on. We also spent a lot of time looking at why you would use a particular approach for a particular group at a particular time. So what was new about Blended Learning?

In some ways I haven’t changed my views. But it does seem that the use of the term Blended Learning has changed. Today it is being used as a catch phrase for focusing on the pedagogy of e-learning, rather than the technology. And it is being used to break the stranglehold of the instructional design approach to learning. That can only be for the good. Yesterday I received an invitation to join the Ning group on Blended Learning. I haven’t had much time to explore the group so far, but it does seem a lively and stimulating discussion area, focusing on the learning rather than the gadgets. If that is all that Blended Learning has brought us, it is a big step forward.

3 Responses to “Blended learning – more than a couple of words”

  1. To be honest – i share the moment of blended learning a bit more pessimistic. Thought at the first moment i’ve heard it this could be the admit of the defeat of the dream of the perfect and ultimative eLearning – understood as the solution for all problems. In fact you are right. BL enables bringing back the context to the pure content – and by this way it brought back more the pedagogy to the eLearning-Scenario. But this doesn’t mean that there has not been any pedagogical thoughts inside pure eLearning. But it’s dammed hard to assume all eventualities of understandings – misunderstandings- learning processes – … in awareness of the real students. And now going so far: Blended Learning in one scenario and Blended Learning in the other may differ completely. So that’s no assurance beeing pedagogical heard. More than that I expect the need for a plus of pedagigical engagement and less instructional design maybe more useful. This includes also that information transport can just be one part in a chain.

  2. Sevtap Karaoglu says:

    Blended learning has definitely a very broad meaning. But, I would not necessarily accept that blended learning is the pedagogy of e-learning, rather than the technology. Blended learning is the idea of integrating face-to-face learning with distance education.
    The combinations of the two modes of delivery can be much more challenging but, it is definitely not only the pedagogical engagement and less instructional design. It is the effectiveness and efficiency of course design techniques integrated with both face-to-face and distance learning.

  3. Cindy Zhang says:

    As we know, technology could deliver learning contents as a tool, but instead learning instructional design. Instructional design for online learning is to make and guide particular activities and certain fields more effective. The traditional class room teaching processes has some characteristic which more teacher-centered rather than using a lot of technologies. But the use of technology definetly makes instructional design more active and posssible. Therefore, the combinition of two modes could be as a trend to apply for online learning. Howver it is a challenge for educators to figure out which degree of strategies and instructional design are more adaptive during online learning.

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