Blended Emerges


blendedBlended courses are now emerging in the field of lifelong learning. Some half of participants at the LERN Advanced Programming Institute reported offering some blended courses, and a third of participants at the LERN Executive Leadership Institute in Tucson (photo from conference hotel resort) also said they are now offering some blended or hybrid courses.

The big question: what to call the courses – – blended, hybrid, web-enhanced, web-hosted, web-based, some other term, or all of the terms. “We use all the terms,” said James Foulkes of the University of New Mexico at the Executive Leadership Institute, “because people don’t know what the terms mean.”

What You Put Online
Executives reported putting a range of content, including multimedia, online for their blended courses. Videos, Lego game, drag and drop, simulations (such as virtual welding), and interactive tools were all put online. One executive reported putting assessment online. No one said they had created discussion online between face-to-face class meetings yet.

Boring but popular
Marla Gerein of the British Columbia Real Estate Association reported that one online interaction, a “Walk Through” for real estate agents, was both the most boring online feature but also the most popular with her participants. The example shows that some things online do not have to be of superior technical quality to be of superior learning quality.

Blended Challenges
Change management and acceptance of blended courses by both administrators and teachers was rated the top challenge while implementing blended learning by executives at the LERN Executive Leadership Institute. Every executive implementing blended courses said that students love the blended format.

The second top challenge for blended implementation is access to instructional designers, content experts, and software for integration.

Other challenges mentioned were:
-Budget and funding
-Student access

Despite the challenges, the blended format was universally praised as a success. No programs have reported dropping the blended format. LERN has predicted that all courses will become blended in the next ten years. LERN’s Nine Shift has also predicted that because blended will become universal for in-person classes and events, the eventual term used for blended will be “class” or “course,” with no blended format distinction needed.

For those interested in how to develop or teach a blended course, LERN now offers a Certified Blended Instructor (CBI) program and designation, led by Kassia Dellabough of the University of Oregon and John Meyer of the Florida Institute of Technology. The program consists of three online courses offered several times a year. Check it out at http://www.UGotClass.net  or email us at info@lern.org for full information.

Photo of Westward Look Resort by LERN staffer Dan Torrez.

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