Tips for teachers who are new to blended learning

Blended learning is not going away, so where do educators start when they want to create a blended course? In this video, Carl Sherwood shares tips for best practice


9 Mar 2023
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Key Details

This video will cover:

01:30 How to capture good teaching practice in blended learning

02:04 What course materials will you need?

02:52 Three advantages of designing for blended learning


Hello, my name’s Carl Sherwood from the University of Queensland. This video aims to share some tips for teachers that are new to blended learning. By drawing on academic research and our experiences, our key message is not to be distracted by the latest technology but rather take the time to reflect on what good teaching practice looks like and how to make it happen.

So, why put the emphasis on teaching? That’s obvious, isn’t it? Well, often teachers new to blended learning imagine they simply need to convert their face-to-face lecture material into videos and job done.

Instead, creating a blended-learning course should really be seen as a course-development opportunity. That means reflecting on previous student learning outcomes and thinking about how to improve the course. A focus on good teaching practice can help shift your thinking away from just content, content, content to make lots of videos. Try and identify student learning issues to design the course learning activities and only then start thinking about what technology to use.

A focus on good teaching practice can also help reduce any fears you might have of designing a course in an unfamiliar format.

So, what makes good teaching? And how can a teacher capture this in a blended-learning environment?

It means reflecting on your course aims, learning objectives and activities, and the assessment tasks. They all need to be aligned. You should also reflect on what learning theories you’ll use. For example, having peers co-construct new knowledge can draw on social constructivism as a teaching approach. What theory is used can help inform the technology you’ll adopt.

Next, think about the course learning materials – for example, will your PowerPoint slides from, say, your traditional two-hour face-to-face lecture be suitable? Maybe not. Why? Because a blended-learning approach might design the first hour to be face to face to cover theoretical concepts; the second hour could then be a workshop where active peer learning uses online resources to help students make sense of concepts from the first hour.

A tip is to redesign just a couple of traditional lectures first to try out some ideas. You’ll soon gain experience of what works, what doesn’t, and feel more confident when creating the fully blended course. You’ll find there are some real advantages in taking the time to reflect on how to create a blended course.

First, it will reveal blended learning to be just another teaching approach, where elements of good teaching still apply. Second, it’s an opportunity to repurpose your traditional teaching materials that can reinvigorate your teaching by using a different approach. And, third, trialling ideas first can save you time and frustration from having to redo work later on.

But there are disadvantages, too. Teachers often find creating a blended-learning course is time-consuming. It’s usually because they are trying to create too many videos.

Keep in mind there are less labour-intensive activities you can design, such as online discussions and surveys. The trick is to think carefully about the course design, how you will teach, and what the essential learning resources are.

In summary, blended learning seems here to stay. The challenge is to design engaging and successful student learning experiences. You should see blended learning as being built on good teaching practice first and technology second, not the other way around.

Trialling a few blended learning ideas first is a good way to gain experience. You’ll soon overcome any fears of “where do I start?” and be well on your way to creating a fully blended course.

This video was produced by Carl Sherwood, senior lecturer, and John Raiti, learning designer, in the School of Economics at the University of Queensland.

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