A new resource can help higher education faculty optimize blended learning strategies and options for students moving forward.

How higher ed can support blended learning beyond the pandemic


A new resource can help higher education faculty optimize blended learning strategies and options

The future of blended learning has arrived. A new resource from the Every Learner Everywhere network, Planning for a Blended Future: A research-driven guide for educators, helps educators advance their blended learning efforts beyond the crisis phase of the pandemic to strategically meld course design and learning technologies.

Blended learning in its ideal application offers faculty and instructors within higher education institutions an opportunity to benefit from multiple modes of instruction while providing students with a quality learning experience. Real learning can be achieved when we acknowledge the weaknesses of technology, strengths of togetherness, and the need for thoughtful and inclusive design and planning to blend the two. By using active pedagogies, and by way of thoughtful and inclusive strategic planning, educators can now use technology to create meaningful connectedness across distance.

Using a range of technologies, instructional approaches, and pedagogical practices. Planning for a Blended Future, a collaborative effort between Every Learner Everywhere, The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) and the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), identifies techniques for blended courses and programs for the future of post-inoculation higher education.

“Blended is our future,” said Nicole Weber, Assistant Vice President of Learning at the Online Learning Consortium, and one of the guides’ co-authors. “It allows instructors to strategically leverage the mode of instruction that best suits their course’s learning objectives. This means that students benefit from the thoughtful integration of face-to-face and online interactions using a range of technology, intentional instructional approaches, and pedagogical practices in a way that enhances their learning experience.”

While the pandemic led many higher education faculty to quickly launch technology-driven blended options, Planning for a Blended Future assists educators–faculty, instructors, instructional staff, instructional improvement staff, instructional designers, learning experience designers and developers, technological support staff, and other stakeholders–on how to strategically implement a blended model.

More than a getting-started guide, this resource is based on current and foundational empirical research. Planning for a Blended Future emphasizes research, reflection, and actions toprovide educators insights in four key areas:

  • Foundational knowledge about blended learning.
  • Information about how to blend learning outcomes with course design, learning environments and learning modalities.
  • Tips to foster reflection and reframing about blended learning in courses and programs.
  • Resources to help educators plan for their blended futures.

“Now is the perfect time for all involved to take a step back and intentionally pave the higher education path forward, recognizing that the blend of onsite learning and online learning can be better than their individual parts,” said Jessica Rowland Williams, Ph.D., Director of Every Learner Everywhere.

Lead author Tanya Jooston, Ph.D., of DETA collaborated with Weber, as well as DETA research associates Margaret Baker and Abigail Schletzbaum to create the asset.

In addition to this resource, Every Learner Everywhere, DETA, and the OLC will partner to release a second research-based asset this summer, a blended learning guide for leaders, focusing on the needs of administrators, deans, and directors.

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