In her article “Improving Learning and Reducing Costs: New Models for Online Learning,” Carole Twigg, director of the National Center for Academic Transformation, developed five categories for changing the way we teach to realize cost savings. Three of these models (supplemental, replacement, and emporium) are most commonly referred to as blended models and examples of them can be found across the UW–Madison campus.
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- “Retains the basic structure of the traditional course, particularly the number of class meetings.”
- May simply supplement lectures and textbooks with “technology-based, out-of-class activities to encourage greater student engagement with course content” and to ensure that students are prepared when they come to class.
- May add technology-based, out-of-class activities and also change what goes on in the class by creating an active learning environment within a large lecture hall setting (Twigg 30-32).
- Reduces the number of in-class meetings but does not eliminate all in-class meetings.
- Replaces (rather than supplements) some in-class time with “online, interactive learning activities.”
- Gives careful consideration to “why (and how often) classes need to meet” face-to-face.
- Assumes that “certain activities can be better accomplished online, individually or in small groups, than in a [face-to-face] class” (Twigg 33).
- “Eliminates all [lectures] and replaces them with a learning resource center model featuring [interactive software] and on-demand personalized assistance.”
- Depends heavily “on instructional software, including interactive tutorials, . . . practice exercises, solutions to frequently asked questions, and online quizzes” and tests.
- “Allows students to choose . . . what types of learning materials to use depending on their needs, and how quickly to work through the materials.”
- Uses a staffing model that combines faculty, teaching assistants, peer tutors and others who “respond directly” to students’ specific needs and “direct [them] to resources from which they can learn.”
- May require “a significant commitment of space and equipment” (Twigg 34-35).
BLENDED LEARNING LEVELS
There are many ways in which the idea of blended learning can be applied to a course — from small and quick approaches to large scale redesign processes. In “Blended Learning Systems: Definitions, Current Trends, and Future Directions,” Graham identifies four levels of blended learning:
- Activity-level blending: Activity-level blending occurs when a learning activity contains both face-to-face and computer-mediated elements;
- Course-level blending: Course-level blending is a combination of distinct face-to-face and computer-mediated activities. Some blended approaches engage learners in different but supportive face-to-face and computer-mediated activities that overlap in time, while other approaches separate the time blocks so that they are sequenced chronologically but not overlapping.
- Program-level blending: Program-level blending occurs when participants choose a mix between courses that have face-to-face courses and online courses or in which the combination between the two is prescribed by the program.
- Institutional-level blending: Institutional-level blending occurs when there is a institutional-level commitment to blending face-to-face and computer-mediated instruction, and in which they create or endorse models at an institutional level (Graham, 2005).