Special Series: Blended Learning

    by Kathleen Bartzen Culver
    August 25, 2014
    Blended learning draws together in-person and online teaching approaches. (Image courtesy of Flickr user DeclanTM and used here under Creative Commons license.)

    I remember the exact moment I got sold on blended learning. My multimedia boot camp course met Monday mornings, most weeks with tech-based assignments due. My Sundays became increasingly bogged down with emails, instant message chats and even the occasional call as students wrestled the demons of HTML, video editing and page design.

    My husband became increasingly grumpy. What had been set aside as family day had descended into hour upon hour of fielding individual questions. I knew there had to be a better way.

    Enter: the tech troubleshooting wiki. I set up a site where students could pose a question to the group. My teaching assistants, I and even other students would post answers. The best part was the questions were archived, so students could check earlier answers before posting something new.


    My Sunday digital traffic dropped to almost nothing, and my happy husband returned.

    At its base, this is all blended learning is: improving teaching by using technology to solve problems when in-person instruction isn’t optimal. The models vary from simple touches like my wiki to massive tech-based courses. But in the end, we have means now to blend the best of our live instruction with the most fitting digital tools to augment students’ learning.

    I’ve since abandoned that wiki in favor of a Facebook group. Technology never stands still, so neither can we. This EdShift special series is designed to help everyone see how blended approaches can benefit instructors and students.


    Series Posts

    No Chalkboard Needed: J-Schools Experiment with Blended Learning, by Katherine Krueger

    How to Use Blended Learning to Get Over Not Knowing, by Beatriz Wallace

    The Real Legacy of MOOCs: Better Introductory Courses, by Joshua Kim

    Looking to Flip Your Classroom? Turn to Facebook, by Steve Fox

    Flip Your Classroom and Your Attitude, by Mark Johnson

    Shifting Teaching from Classroom to Online: Your Digital Toolbox, by Vicki Krueger

    Mediatwits #128: How Blended Learning Fits into the Future of Education, hosted by Mark Glaser, with guests Katy Culver, Kelvin Thompson, Mark E. Johnson and Andrew Lih

    Twitter Chat

    #EdShift Chat: Tools & Platforms for Blended Learning, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 1 p.m. ET/12 CT/10 PT

    Past Coverage

    What It Takes to Go ‘Digital First’ in Communication Law, by Erica Salkin

    Remix: Put Data Journalism into Every Entry-Level J-School Class, by Kathleen Bartzen Culver

    10 Lessons Learned from Poynter’s Teachapalooza, by Steve Fox

    How to Create a Successful Online Course — Without Muppets, by Steve Doig

    Turning a MOOC Into a Network of Schools Collaborating, by Robert Quigley

    Course Remix: Meshing Reporting Skills and Multimedia Storytelling, by Rachele Kanigel

    Kathleen Bartzen Culver (@kbculver) is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaching and researching at the intersection of ethics and digital media practices. Culver also serves as associate director of the Center for Journalism Ethics and education curator for PBS MediaShift.

    Tagged: blended learning innovation online learning
    • Blended learning and teaching is more than using technology to “solve problems when in-person isn’t optimal.” It is realizing that many online tools are better than face-to-face tools. For example, using an online discussion board generates a better conversation between students much better than a face-to-face classroom discussion when there are more than 10 students in a class. Overall, blended teaching transforms teaching to better use online technologies to customize the learning so that concepts can be accessed in a variety of formats (not simply in a lecture). In addition, good blended teachers utilize data in an ongoing way to personalize learning for each student and students become more engaged and empowered in their learning.

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