Tools and Strategies to Support Blended Learning
I first wrote on the topic of Flipped Classrooms way back in 2013 in a post for the Lethbridge College Learning Connections website (www.lc2.ca). At that time, I had left my role as an instructor and was just learning to navigate the world of instructional design and curriculum development. eCampus Alberta still existed back then, which provided those of us working in the post-secondary education sector with a network for sharing e-learning solutions and standards for course design. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became with the potential of emerging technologies and the impact online tools could have on teaching and learning. Just like eCampus Alberta, many of the original tools from that post don’t exist anymore, but the model itself is gaining traction once again as we look to what our next norm will be post-COVID-19.
The flipped classroom model inverts the conventional classroom structure by assigning certain aspects of the curriculum for at-home learning, while practical application is conducted within a lab or classroom under the guidance of the instructor and in collaboration with peers. This allows learners to use classroom time to tackle problems, conduct experiments, and create actual products.
Learners also have more control over how they access content and have the benefit of being able to rewind or re-watch lectures as needed. Learners can move through complex concepts and theories at their own pace, while revisiting more challenging topics at any point throughout the course. Some institutions provide additional support structures such as embedded librarians or learning strategists in the course to help when learners get stuck. Chat rooms and discussion boards provide platforms for learners to engage with their classmates and instructors remotely.
In order to implement this model successfully, a framework of synchronous (occurring at the same time) and asynchronous (not occurring at the same time) activities must be established. Learning management systems make it easy for instructors to create online course communities in which learners can view videos, read articles, listen to audio, and read content online.
In class, learners can problem solve with their peers and have more time to discuss issues and concepts, present and critique information, and receive more support from their instructors.
If you’re considering using some type of blended model in your teaching, the following strategies and tools can be easily adapted to fit a wide range of educational contexts.
Instructor engages learners through a series of educational exercises, polls, and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Data can be used to prompt discussion, assess learning, and collaborate on ideas.
Instructors and learners can use Piktochart to present information as an alternative to PowerPoint. The advantage is that information can also be shared and stored online. Canva is another alternative.
1. Learners create collaborative study-notes using an assigned hashtag.
2. Instructor tracks and responds to learner inquiries during class time.
Learners contribute, analyze, and discuss data results using Twtpoll. Instructors can use data to ask questions and gauge understanding.
Learners can take notes, capture audio, and take pictures during class lectures and presentations. This application can be synced between mobile devices and a computer.
A game-based learning platform where instructors can check for understanding through learning games or quizzes.
This tool can be used in a classroom using learner devices, or remotely by providing a link to the Padlet where students can create different boards for organizing ideas, brainstorming or collaborate on projects.
1. Learners think about what they know
2. Learners share that knowledge with a partner when they are in class together
3. Key points are then shared with the rest of the class
Blended option: Learners can think remotely and post key points in a discussion post or a Twitter feed using a specific hashtag.
- Each learner is assigned a “home” group
- Each learner within the home group is assigned one aspect of a topic
- Learners from home groups break off and meet with learners from other groups who have been assigned the same topic aspect. This new group masters the topic they have been assigned.
- Once material has been mastered, learners return to their home groups and teach the material to their other group members.
Blended option: Learners can post resources on their mastered topic or work with their “expert group” to facilitate an online discussion.
Learners consider different perspectives by acting out characters or taking different positions in hypothetical situations.
Blended option: Learners research topics and gather information online (remotely) so they can accurately depict their assigned roles during class time.
Fishbowl is a group activity in which a group of learners is chosen to discuss a given topic. The rest of the class watches, listens, and takes notes. The conversation evolves as participants move in and out of the Fishbowl to share their perspectives and ask questions.
Debate teaches critical thinking by tackling complex subjects. This activity builds learners’ confidence in speaking in public while expressing ideas and perspective with poise. Debates are also beneficial in getting learners to see all sides of an issue.
Stanford University. (2020). The power of speech & debate education : Stanford National Forensic Institute. https://snfi.stanford.edu/skills
Labs provide training in observation, prompt the consideration and application of detailed and contextualized information, and cultivate learners’ curiosity while applying concepts learned in class to new situations (Queen’s University, n.d.).
Learners create online presentations that can be built, stored, and shared online for both private or public viewing and collaboration.
Learners create ePortfolios that track growth and demonstrate competencies to future employers.
Instructors share interactive presentations that include videos and audio. Learners can view and process information at their own pace.
Learners and instructors meet via video and chat synchronously from any device (computer, smartphone, or tablet).
Learners and instructors can share, bookmark, tag, and annotate webpages and online documents.
Learners and instructors can share and curate resources and links to information by creating online pinboards on different topics.
Learners collaborate on writing assignments, brainstorm ideas, and edit each other’s work.
Instructors can edit student work and monitor progress.
Learners and instructors can share screencasts of processes and tutorials.
Instructors can take screencasts while marking assignments to provide both audio and visual feedback.
Learners can create interactive videos to share their knowledge about specific topics.
Learners can brainstorm, collaborate, and share visual ideas online. Jamboard is a similar product.
Michigan State University. (n.d.). What, Why, and How to Implement a Flipped Classroom Model. Retrieved from https://omerad.msu.edu/teaching/teaching-strategies/27-teaching/162-what-why-and-how-to-implement-a-flipped-classroom-model
Queen’s University. (n.d.). Lab-based learning. https://www.queensu.ca/ctl/teaching-support/instructional-strategies/lab-based-learning#:~:text=Why%20use%20Lab%2DBased%20Learning,cultivates%20students%27%20curiousity%20in%20science.
University of Washington. (n.d.). Flipping the classroom. Retrieved from https://www.washington.edu/teaching/topics/engaging-students-in-learning/flipping-the-classroom/
Dean, Centre for Teaching, Learning & Innovation