Sloan-C: Research in Blended Learning: Where are we now? And what are the future challenges and needs?

  • Overview of some of the topics from Charles Graham’s book related to research in blended learning.  Topics include workload factors, K-12, and more.  If you are interested in more, keep an eye out for Blended Learning: Research Perspectives, Volume 2 in November 2013
  • critical area that need more investigation: professional development
  • we tend to be more practice-oriented, so we need more development regarding research methods to move beyond just the case study since individual case studies are hard to compare to aggregate results for more broadly reusable practices
  • if we have 4,000 universities and each university has 4 sections of Psychology 101, do we really need to treat these as completely unique courses to build?  Even accounting for some unique differences, we probably don’t
  • blended learning makes you think very carefully about what you can do and what someone else could help you do
  • shifts attention appropriately to students
  • online components allow for greater data gathering to track individual student learning and achievement
  • for administrators, cost is a main driver
  • we can’t just be adding adjuncts to save cost
  • blended learning saves money by not using classroom space (long term savings), but we need to navigate new models of collaborative teaching/course development
  • K-12 sector
    • lens of disruptive innovation theory
    • blended learning started as a dropout recovery solution, home schooling solution
    • K-12 has a custodial role, so the daytime components like homeroom or band still exist but a good chunk of content is online
    • modalities needs to be connected
    • 7 main models, such as enriched
    • challenge: get beyond best practices and get to circumstance-based theory (ex: if you have feathers and wings, then you must be able to fly–>however, bats don’t have feathers but they fly and ostriches have feathers and wings but don’t fly–>more sophisticated understanding of drag, gravity, etc adjust the context)
    • for more information, you may want to check out the May 2013 report Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive? An Introduction to the Theory of Hybrids
  • European Union perspective – Anders Norberg from Skelleftea Council/Umea University, Sweden
    • don’t use “blended learning” but instead focus on quality enhancements – the concept is not connected to their theories
    • interested in how IT tools enhance educational process
    • education is a science in its own right while here instructional design is more the emphasized science
  • distance learning field struggled to find theories
  • theories are important to give direction to practice
  • we need to move beyond the looking at the physical dimension of blended/online learning to instead address the pedagogical dimensions
  • K-12 taxonomies help us work with at least using the same language
  • we seem to be suffering a bit from innovation fatigue; we also aren’t in a position to be able to fail, so we need to consider the human factors

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