Blended Course Development
ROI Learning has course designers and developers who are experienced in the creation and delivery of blended learning programs. Blended learning programs offer an appropriate “blend” of processes, instructional methods, and technologies to achieve successful learning. Properly designed blended courses match subject matter, learning styles, and delivery media to maximize the learning impact on each student.

The primary differences between blended learning and simple online learning is illustrated in the chart below. This two-by-two matrix classifies all kinds of learning delivery methods into four distinct quadrants. The horizontal axis - TIME - is divided into two sections: same time and any time. The vertical axis - PLACE - is also divided into two sections: same place and any place.

The quadrant representing learning that is delivered at the same time in the same place is easily understood as a traditional classroom. Both the instructor and the learners come together at the same time and in the same place to teach and to learn. The quadrant representing learning that is delivered at any time but in the same place is also familiar. This is a learning center or a library where students can come at any time, but they must come to the physical place where the resources are located.

The two quadrants at the top of the matrix are new. Using modern technology is possible for people to meet without being in the same place. The upper left quadrant - any place, same time - represents the virtual classroom. In the virtual classroom environment students may be anywhere the technology permits them to establish connections with other students and the instructors or facilitators. An example of this that is becoming increasingly commonplace is the web-facilitated classroom. Companies, such as Web-Ex, Centra, and PlaceWare (now a division of Microsoft), offer services that enable anyone with a PC and a Web connection to link into a group presentation and discussion. Typically the audio portion of the classroom is accomplished using a telephone and the presentation of visual information is accomplished over the web.

The final quadrant in the upper right - any place, any time - represents the domain of online learning (see online course development). Online courses enable students to proceed through a course of learning at any time and in any place where they can connect to to the course. In today's world with low-cost personal computers and widespread access to the Internet, the theoretical "any place" becomes practically everywhere.

In some cases effective learning can be delivered via a program that utilizes only one of these quadrants. In many other cases, however, the most effective learning is achieved by integrating or "blending" course elements from two or more quadrants.

This concept is not really new. Think of a traditional college course. You meet with the instructor in a classroom (Quadrant 1: Same time-Same place). The instructor assigns some homework to be finished before the next class. If the homework involves readings that are on reserve in the library, you must go there (Quadrant 2: Same place-Any time). If the homework is reading on your own from the textbook, you may do it in your room whenever you please (Quadrant 3: Any place-Any time). This course is then a blended course, blending activities from three quadrants of the matrix.

Today blended courses frequently use technology to create new, more powerful options. Here are some examples of blended courses of the types developed by ROI Learning.

  1. B1 - Virtual Classroom and Online Course: Many successful learning experiences today take place on the "Any Place" row. Students may meet periodically in a virtual classroom, learning new material and sharing experiences via telephone and internet. Between these meetings or "sync" points they study materials presented in the form of online courses. They may read instructional articles, study animations, or engage in multimedia simulations. Following these self-study experiences they meet again to share their experiences and questions with their instructor and their fellow students.

  2. B2 - Traditional Classroom and Online Course: Students in a traditional classroom may also have the opportunity to augment their classroom experience with self-study, online courses. This combination can be used to maximize the value of the classroom interaction by focusing knowledge acquisition on the self-study parts of the program and using the classroom to clarify, reinforce, and tangibilize what has been learned independently.

  3. B3 - Traditional Classroom and Virtual Classroom: In situations where it is too expensive to keep bringing students together in traditional classrooms, it may be desirable to arrange only a few face-to-face meetings and augment those with virtual classroom (sync point) activities.

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For more information about developing and delivering blended courses, please contact us.

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