Common approaches to blending
There are numerous approaches for designing blended learning units. Here are some approaches that are commonly used at ACU. These are not mutually exclusive, that is, an intensive unit could also apply a flipped classroom approach, and be delivered across multiple campuses.
The Flipped classroom model is a pedagogical approach that involves students working through preparatory self-paced online material prior to face-to-face sessions. Students complete the online learning component so they are familiar with important concepts and can explore and consolidate these in a more applied way within class time. This maximises face-to-face time, which can be spent applying active learning strategies for deeper learning. There are commonly consolidation activities after the face-to-face sessions.
The University of Massachusetts compared a chemistry class taught for 3 years in traditional ways, followed by a flipped classroom approach for 2 years. “The study found that the blended structure led to increased engagement with course material, which promoted more active learning during class meetings and ultimately improved student success” (Johnson et al., 2016, p.18).
ACU academics speak
Flipping the classroom...forces the student to engage with the content. To actually make them responsible for their own learning.
Professor Romina Jamieson-Proctor - State Head of Education (QLD). To watch Romina's full case study follow the link.
We do a weekly flipped classroom, which is 1 hour and the students can take their own time. We then follow that up with a face-to-face video conference lecture, where we encourage interaction across three (3) states of students and we take a case-based approach….Then in the weekly face-to-face tutorials we take an active learning approach with lots of group work,… discussion and…. exploration of their own past experiences.
Dr Leigha Dark - Lecturer in Speech Pathology. To watch Leigha's full case study follow this link.
The following may be useful if you would like to explore the flipped classroom model.
- 7 things you should know about the flipped classroom (EDUCAUSE 2012).
- The page Flipping the classroom (Brame, 2016) provides a comprehensive look at the flipped classroom, including its theoretical basis, evidence for its effectiveness and its key elements.
- The video The Flipped classroom model (MADDrawProductions 2012) provides and simple but useful description of a flipped classroom.
- Flipping the classroom (Cornell University).
- The flipped classroom (UNSW).
- This paper reviews research into the flipped classroom model, The use of flipped classrooms in higher educations (O'Flaherty & Phillips 2015).
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Hall, C. (2016). NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Intensives are also referred to as ‘block mode’. An intensive unit is a course taught predominantly online, with the addition of a face-to-face block ("an intensive"). The face-to-face component may be at the start or end of a semester, or take place several times across a semester. The online material is often complemented by weekly synchronous webinars.
See Dr Steve Guinea’s case study for an example of a unit built to this structure.
Weekly online sychronous lecture
Weekly online sychronous lectures held over semester.
Intensive face-to-face block
Intensive face-to-face block held at least once over semester.
Blended learning approaches are often applied in the creation of multi-campus ('national') units. There is no one way of designing these units, differences in enrollment, lecturer specialisation and discipline needs will all affect what will work for your unit.
Here are two examples of methods used at ACU:
To view further information about this unit's structure, see Dr Leigha Dark's case study.
Weekly synchronous lecture (national)
Weekly national lectures held concurrently across three campuses. A staff member from one site is the main presenter each week, with local lecturers facilitating discussions with students at designated points in the lecture. The lecturers rotate so that each state receives a lecture ‘live’. Videoconferencing facilities used and each lecture is recorded for the students to review.
Weekly face-to-face tutorial (local)
Weekly tutorials are held locally in each campus. These are not recorded. Tutors in each state deliver the same materials. The lecturer who developed the lecture for that week also develops the tutorial materials and shares them on the students’ LEO site.
To view further information about this unit's structure, see Professor Tim McKenry's case study.
Weekly pre-recorded lecture (national)
Weekly national lectures were pre-recorded and hosted on LEO.
Weekly face-to-face tutorial (local)
Weekly tutorials are held locally in each campus. These are not recorded. Tutors in each state deliver the same materials.