Centre for Learning Technologies
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Blended learning as an overarching approach, applicable to different modes of provision

All modes of provision – whether face-to-face (F2F), hybrid learning (HL) or fully online learning (FOL) – can involve a blend of F2F teaching, learning and assessment methods and technologies to facilitate learning in a given context. At SU, blended learning (BL) is understood as the systematic, sensible and contextual-responsive blend of different pedagogical approaches, teaching methodologies and appropriate digital technologies combined with the best features of F2F interaction. Therefore, blended learning can be seen as a broad understanding of contemporary teaching, learning and assessment (Hrastinski, 2019), which can inform, enrich or mediate the curriculum design process for F2F, HL and FOL. Additionally, blended learning can also influence the place (in the classroom or an electronic space) and the medium of instruction (i.e. whether the technology used will be internet dependent or internet supported) (Czerniewicz, 2022).
Blended learning approaches could include the flipped classroom approach (where students are, for example, required to watch a podcast before attending class) or the augmented remote teaching, learning and assessment (ARTLA) approach used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, blended learning, as an overarching pedagogical approach, allows for a combination of synchronous​ F2F (real-time engagement between students and lecturer/tutor in a specific space at the same time, whether F2F or virtually) and asynchronous ​online (self-paced from different locations and at different times) learning. Blended learning still acknowledges the best features of F2F, with a combination of appropriate online engagement to enrich and support the learning experience of students. In this overarching approach applicable to different modes of provision, the CLT and blended learning coordinators (BLCs) in the faculties work closely together to augment teaching, learning and assessment with learning technologies.

With blended learning we aim to create engaging learning opportunities for students that would otherwise not have been possible in conventional face-to-face or online courses. We do this with the aid of learning technologies (e.g. SUNLearn and MS Teams, to name just a few).

Augmented remote teaching, learning and assessment (ARTLA)

​The global COVID-19 crisis has caused several major changes in higher education within an exceptionally short period of time. At SU, as at most other institutions, the sudden suspension of on-campus activities to curb the spread of the virus resulted in a rapid shift to a fully online delivery mode. Yet it is important to note that online teaching, learning and assessment during a time of crisis and the conventional development of fully online courses are two different approaches. Nevertheless, the one could feed into the other: Building on the new knowledge we gained and the practices and approaches we developed during the crisis could pave the way for sensible and sustainable blended, hybrid or fully online engagement in the future. The lessons learnt during this period could also influence possible shifts in our F2F offering going forward.

During 2021, SU moved from the ERTLA of 2020 to the current Augmented (rather than Emergency) Remote Teaching, Learning and Assessment (ARTLA). A differentiated approach, with a mixture of BL, HL and online learning (OL) components, has been followed. There is flexibility across SU on the application of ARTLA and a uniform approach will not be followed by all faculties. Contact an advisor at the CLT, a BLC in your faculty or the Learning Technologies Support team for further consultation. ​

​Face-to-face learning (F2F) or full-contact learn​ing

Suitable for: credit-bearing, non-credit-bearing, academic and non-academic offerings

When the mode of provision is F2F, the module or programme is offered in a physical classroom or facility with lecturers/facilitators and students mostly present in person. Most of the summative assessments happen on campus (in brick-and-mortar facilities). Most of the teaching, learning and assessments are still facilitated on campus or in the classroom, using the traditional timetable whereby studen​ts attend learning opportunities on campus daily. Fac​e-to-face learning and teaching are presently the format in which most SU modules are offered to full-time stu​dents. F2F learning allows for different teaching and learning methodologies to be used and can contain a blend of traditional classroom methods and online interaction (Cronje, 2020; Hrastinski, 2019).​

For assistance and/or support pertaining to this mode of delivery, please contact your fac​ulty advisor at the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

​Hybrid learning (HL)

Suitable for: credit-bearing offerings, non-credit-bearing, academic and non-academic offerings

Hybrid learning, also known as hybrid 'block mode' learning, involves the delivery of an academic programme or module through sustained periods of fully online learning, supplemented with fewer/shorter, yet highly engaging and interactive periods ('calendar blocks') of on-campus (F2F) contact sessions (Czerniewicz, 2022;, McCluskey et al. 2019, Samarawickrema & Cleary, 2021; Weissmann et al., 2021). 

The calendar blocks[1] of online learning will likely consist of predominantly asynchronous learning, allowing students the flexibility to learn at their own pace using scaffolded and guided online learning opportunities. However, online learning should also ideally include synchronous, remote learning opportunities such as webinars and online assessments. These real-time sessions contribute to the minimum required contact time (Council for Higher Education, 2014) required by the DHET. 

The 'block mode' timetable design of HL offerings is intended to provide students with an engaging yet flexible learning experience that does not require them to be on campus full time. This improves access for non-residential, occasional students, working professionals and other students who cannot regularly travel to (or stay on) our campus full time. As the HL model allows on-campus contact sessions to be scheduled during recess periods, it can also meet the needs of residential students who need to complete further opportunity modules. 

When proposing a programme and module(s) that will use an HL mode of provision, programme or module, leaders are required to include a hybrid learning strategy in their module design (via the module specification document/Form B) to ensure that the programme/module design considers:

  • The minimum prescribed synchronous hours for the qualification type
  • How the programme will allow for asynchronous learning opportunities, and which learning opportunities would be best suited to enhance learning in the specific field/discipline
  • Which synchronous learning opportunities can be facilitated online (and how)
  • Which knowledge acquisition opportunities should ideally occur on-campus (for instance orientation and practical/lab work)?

1 A hybrid learning timetable typically consists of 1) longer calendar 'blocks' of sustained online learning and 2) shorter periods of on-campus lectures. Such a 'blocked' timetable format is intended to be especially suitable for working professionals or students who cannot afford to reside on or regularly commute to campus.​

​Read more on HL here.

Fully online learning (FOL)

Only suitable for: Non-credit-bearing offerings (including short courses and learn​ing units)

The entire offering is intentionally designed in advance to be offered fully online (FOL) via digital technology. It is also known as distance education or remote learning (Fresen, 2018). Teaching, learning and assessment activities are predominantly asynchronous (more than 30% of the notional hours) to allow students to engage with learning material at different times and locations. However, the learning design can include pedagogies to allow limited synchronous student engagement. These engagements are usually scheduled utilising an online platform. 

As SU is not accredited to offer fully online credit-bearing modules or programmes, this mode of delivery is only suitable for non-academic or non-credit-bearing offerings, for instance learning units or short courses. The University's academic offerings will meet minimum contact time requirements as a residential institution and include on-campus engagement with facilitators.*

*An exception was made for all HEIs to offer programmes online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about ARTLA he​re

To access the full document: Overview of modes of provision that was approved at the Committee for Learning and Teaching on 18 August 2022, click here.

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