Academic Digital Event

Mark Nichols, live from Queensland #iblc10


Mark Nichols, Laidlaw College Auckland


Blended Learning – a term still ill defined.


With OU – defining ‘interactive’ – covered everything from “next” to complex.


Essential Elements of Blended Learning: No absolutes…


Combines the best of online and face-to-face experiences

Garrison & Vaughan – thoughtful fusion of f2f and online learning experiences.



E-Learning & Social Networking Handbook

Making the Transition to E-Learning


Both crucially see the importance of distance education in the model. Online discussions & media rich content available via technology. Students aren’t disadvantaged by missing a class. See distinctive on campus & distance learning… Blended Learning – we’re saying the distinction has disappeared. Garrison & Vaughan – there’s no longer any need to choose… online learning doesn’t necessarily have to be distance…


Laidlaw College – course available over New Zealand… wanted consistency across regional campuses. Wanted to get:


  • Maximum results from limited development funds

  • Consistency across centres

  • Ongoing revision for distance courses

  • Faculty involvement in distance tutoring

  • Synergy from expertise.


Faculty were not appointed for their technological skills, but with an intentional approach to instructional design (including video).. the outcomes and resources are similar, but the processes and experiences are different.


Online discussions take a lot of time to do well, and adding it to the campus load is heavy and not helpful. Integrated on campus & online approaches = not working… staff underestimated the time required for themselves/others. No need to remove lecturers from their lecturer role…


Challenges to teaching other people’s courses, systematic changes, and the costs of implementing blended roles (500 students, expensive to maintain an e-learning approach). Get better institutional productivity, educational consistency, more effective course revision.


Blended Learning can’t bridge the gap, but it can link them…


LEARNT (common themes from blended learning literature, not unique)

  • Respect modal differences
  • Manage costs & capacity

  • Implement at programme level

  • Assemble a blending team

  • Introduce supportive institutional policy

  • Integrate, don’t add

Reaped benefits, but revolution is unfinished & maybe misled? Common Moodle areas – share resources, have compulsory/well-designed forum areas, grades online, electronic submission through TurnItIn, interviews with internationally recognised subject experts, etc.



Have achieved Blended Learning, but this was the wrong objective…

Have achieved Blended, e-Learning, not significant L.Dee Fink (it’s peripheral), Transformative (no).


Return to Garrison & Vaughan – not the focus on mixing f2f and online, but on the thoughtful fusion. Focus on Blended Learning means box selves in with a focus on technology, rather than the thoughtfulness of teaching?!


L Dee Fink – Creating Significant Learning Experiences – courses should be built around change in the learner. (Learning how to learn, caring, human dimension, integration, application, foundational knowledge = significant learning) Wrote book was that staff were falling back on lecture, seminars. Blended Learning – tend to fall back on online discussions/lectures and ?? – without thinking what else we could do with this potential. Not emphasising the ‘so what’ of what we were teaching, or offering the opportunities to access ‘real-life experiences’.


Rather than innovation, focused on mix of modes rather than content – challenge wasn’t to revolutionise learning… Doing students a disservice… Why are there no Problem Based Learning co-ordinators, not conferences on ‘significant learning’ – what does that say about us as change agents?


Transformative Learning (King 2009) – inform only in the interests of transforming them..

  • Fear & Uncertainty
  • Testing & exploring
  • Affirming and connecting
  • New perspectives


Best examples of problem based learning, case based learning, effective practice – seen, rather than great examples of ‘blended learning’.

Blended Learning emphasises the MEANS and the MECHANISMS of learning….

Are we asking the wrong question by focusing on ‘what is blended learning?’, we should instead be focusing on what is great learning (what is ‘a refreshing beverage’, rather than how do we make ‘the right smoothy’.

Thoughtful blended learning is significant in implementation and transformative by intent. Anything less than this is far from the best that we can do.