Introduction to blended learning
by Dr Sonja C Strydom
With the adoption of the ICT Strategy (2013) and the Teaching and Learning Strategy (2013), Stellenbosch University has committed itself to the value placed on a technology-rich learning environment that could enhance the learning experience for all students.
As a result, faculties are encouraged to consider approaches where technology could be integrated seamlessly into learning, teaching and assessment practices. From a pedagogical perspective it does, however, remain imperative that technology supports pedagogy and does not drive curriculum design, and therefore a blended learning approach is recommended.
Often viewed as contentious within the literature, many different definitions of blended learning exist. The Centre for Learning Technologies finds the views of Krause (2007) valuable in attempting to explain the notion of blended learning.
'Blended learning is realised in teaching and learning environments where there is an effective integration of different modes of delivery, models of teaching and styles of learning as a result of adopting a strategic and systematic approach to the use of technology combined with the best features of face to face interaction.' (Krause, 2007 as cited in Bath & Bourke, 2010)
In order not to be limited by one particular definition, Sharpe, Benfield, Roberts & Francis (2006) (p.18) offer the following dimensions associated with blended learning:
- Chronology: synchronous and asynchronous interventions
- Delivery: different modes (face-to-face and distance education)
- Direction: instructor-directed vs. learner-directed
- Focus: acknowledgement of different aims
- Locus: practice-based vs. classroom-based learning
- Pedagogy: different pedagogical approaches
- Roles: multi-disciplinary or professional groupings
- Technology: mixtures of (web based) technologies
What remains clear is that blended learning is not only identifying the right blend of technologies or increasing student access to learning opportunities, but rather requires a critical engagement in the reassessment and redesign of the alignment between learning and teaching. It is therefore not the process of delivering existing disicplinary content in a new format but rather to aim to create a 'transformative enviroment' by which creative, critical and complex learning skills could be developed (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004, p. 99).
Exploring technology-enhanced learning and teaching initiatives (under construction)
Numerous aspects of curriculum design within a blended mode of delivery are valuable to consider.
- Affordances of learning technologies
- Bloom's Digital Taxonomy
- Digital Storytelling
- Emerging Technologies
- Mobile Technologies
- Open Educational Resources (OERs)
Please direct your enquiries to:
Dr Sonja Strydom
Deputy-Director: Academic Development & Research
Tel: +27 +21 808 3083