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Frequently asked questions

  • At Concordia, blended learning refers to a delivery format that alternates between face-to-face, on-campus classes and out-of-class course work guided by the instructor. 

  • Blended implies reduced contact hours supplemented with intentionally designed out-of-class activities (on Moodle, offline, or as part of an experiential learning activity). 

  • Blended allows you to leverage the benefits of both face-to-face and out-of-class learning to design more engaging and equitable courses. 

  • Blended offers flexibility for you to define the frequency and format of the learning activities based on your course goals and objectives. 

  • Blended requires careful course planning to integrate face-to-face and out-of-class activities cohesively and ensures that the course workload is appropriate for students.

  • Blended follows the Backward model of course design to ensure that you align course goals and objectives with assessments and activities. 

  • Blended structures learning activities and assessments into modules or weeks. Use Moodle to organize your course content and provide clear instructions for out-of-class course work. 

If you are considering adapting your course to a blended learning format, you should consult you’re your Department Chair to ensure your plan meets specifications for blended courses as established by your faculty. It is also advisable to meet with a Teaching Consultant at the beginning of the process to determine the feasibility and to help guide you through the design process and technology selection

There is BL code attached to all blended courses in the SIS. This means that students signing up for courses in advance will know the format. It is your responsibility to advise students of the face-to-face and out-of-class schedule you plan.

While many students appreciate the flexibility of blended courses, not all students like doing a significant amount of learning out-of-class/autonomously, so it is essential for students to be informed immediately.

The following suggestions will help students manage expectations about the course:

  • Make your Moodle course available as early as possible. You do not need to have all your course content on the site, but a notice about the format of the course should be immediately visible when students open the page.
  • Make your syllabus or schedule available as early as possible so that students see exactly how much and what kind of work will be done online.
  • Create a brief Welcome video for students that explains the format and schedule of the course and any other pertinent information. You might also consider talking about the layout of your Moodle site.
  • Send one or two announcements through Moodle to announce the Blended format to students. This way students who have not already logged into Moodle will be notified via email.

The CTL can help guide instructors through the planning process of blending a new or existing course. Instructors can book a consultation to discuss the feasibility of blending a course and/or schedule regular consultations throughout the development of their blended course as needed to get expert advice on planning all aspects of the course.

In addition, the CTL is available to help you develop digital media for your blended course (e.g., Lightboard instructional videos, chunking recorded lectures into smaller segments, PPT slide templates, etc.).

There is no single formula for blended schedule, and the format you choose will depend on your learning outcomes, your course activities, etc.)

Some courses meet for a shortened period every week, some meet on alternate weeks, and other courses meet at strategic times, as scheduled in advance by the instructor.

Please refer to the Blended Models page to see examples formats for a blended course.

Because moving a course to a blended format requires a rethinking of the course structure, it has many of the same challenges you may have with developing a traditional course (i.e., learning outcomes, time demands, access to resources, etc.)

Planning for the blended component also comes with its own challenges. These include:

  • ensuring an appropriate workload for students.

  • integrating face-to-face and out-of-class activities cohesively.

  • creating clear instructions for out-of-class learning activities.

  • curating quality digital teaching and learning resources.

  • competent use of   educational technology tools.

  • rethinking of your pedagogical approach: are you ready to change the way you teach? 

A flipped classroom is a pedagogical model that is usually a face-to-face class (without any reduction in class hours) where the traditional model of teaching has been "flipped." That is, the presentation of content (lectures, readings, etc.) is done before class, and the class time is spent doing problem-solving and other group learning activities, typically done as homework in traditional teaching. Review this page for an overview of the steps to flipping your course. Watch this short video about a flipped approach.

Blended learning refers to a delivery format, not a pedagogical model. The defining characteristic of blended learning is that there is a reduction in face-to-face hours supplemented with intentionally designed out-of-class learning activities.

The flexibility of the blended delivery format certainly allows for the inclusion of the flipped classroom pedagogical model. Depending on how often your class meets, the flipped classroom could be a viable pedagogical model for your blended course.

Several meta-analyses found that blended learning outperforms face-to-face classroom instruction, fully online instruction, and distance education. On average, groups of students receiving blended instruction outperform face-to-face classrooms in achievement by roughly 10-14% (Bernard et al., 2014).

In terms of student attitudes, blended learning is just as effective, even slightly better, than traditional face-to-face classroom instruction. A meta-analysis by Schmid et al., (2014) found that computer-based technology use in a post-secondary classroom correlated with an average improvement in students’ attitudes by + 8.3%.

Technology used for cognitive support

Cognitive support promotes self-regulation by helping students set goals, make plans, and observe their progress. When technology is used to provide cognitive support (e.g., simulations, serious games), average group achievement increases by +22.2% (Bernard et al., 2014).

Technology used to provide communication support

A meta-analysis by Robert Bernard et al., (2014) found that when technology is used to provide communication support, group achievement increases on average by +12.2%. 

Technology used for content/presentational support

A meta-analysis by Robert Bernard et al., (2014) found that when technology is used to present information (e.g., computer generated slides or animations) group achievement increases by an average of +9.5%. 

Effectiveness of undergraduate blended courses 

A meta-analysis by Yong Zhoa et al. (2005) found that undergraduate-level blended courses were more effective than classroom instruction by +14.1%. Indicators of effectiveness include: grades, student satisfaction, faculty satisfaction, dropout rate, standardized tests, and cost effectiveness.

Effectiveness of graduate blended courses 

A meta-analysis by Yong Zhoa et al. (2005) found that graduate-level blended courses were marginally more effective than classroom instruction by +1.2%. Indicators of effectiveness include: grades, student satisfaction, faculty satisfaction, dropout rate, standardized tests, and cost effectiveness.

Bernard, R. M., Borokhovski, E., Schmid, R. F., Tamim, R. M., & Abrami, P. C. (2014). A meta-analysis of blended learning and technology use in higher education: from the general to the applied. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 26(1), 87–122. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-013-9077-3

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy R. F. & Baki, M. (2013). The Effectiveness of Online and Blended Learning: A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1-47.

Schmid, R.F., Bernard, R.M., Borokhovski, E., Tamim, R. M., Abrami, P.C., Surkes, M.A., Wade, C.A., Woods, J. (2014). The effects of technology use in postsecondary education: A meta-analysis of classroom applications. Computers & Education, 72, 271- 291.

Zhao, Y., Lei, J., Yan, B., Lai, C., & Tan, H. S. (2005). What makes the difference? A practical analysis of research on the effectiveness of distance education. Teachers College Record, 107(8), 1836-1884.

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