So what does Blended Learning mean anyway?
Blended Learning can be defined as a student-centered approach that entails purposeful, appropriate, and sustainable integration of technology* which results in the creation of transformative learning experiences and optimizes the use of face-to-face and online environments. Blended learning requires the physical presence of both instructor and learner and offers some degree of learner control over time, place, path, or pace.
Due to the lack of clarity and agreement about its theoretical foundations, the term “blended learning” is sometimes used interchangeably with other terms such as hybrid learning, flipped classroom, and technology-enhanced learning. There are, however, important differences among these terms. Hybrid learning, for instance, is normally reserved for a course design model, in which some face-to-face instruction is supplemented with online work outside of class. Similarly, flipped classroom refers to the model of instruction in which language learners engage with the new content (usually in the form of a multimedia presentation) outside of class, whereas the class time is reserved for activities that help learners practice and reinforce their language skills. Technology-enhanced learning (also known as web-enhanced or technology-based learning) implies the use of technology to enhance or facilitate students’ learning by making it more flexible and accessible (e.g., through posting materials and resources online or engaging students in online discussions).
In contrast, blended learning aims at leveraging technology to create transformative language learning experiences and changes in pedagogy**. It is the power to realize transformative learning experiences that adds value to the blended learning approach and distinguishes it from other models of instruction.
Blended Learning Initiatives
The Tech Center is engaged in the exploration of blended learning as a means to enhance language acquisition processes. Several Tech Center activities support this exploration, including a series of events informed by design thinking as well as activities geared toward field implementations of blended learning. The latter type of activity includes: 1) the creation of a language learning simulation designed for professional language practice and acquisition (Green Ideas); 2) the creation of a collection of tools in use in the Language Flagship (Tech Center Toolkit); 3) the design, development, and testing of materials to support micro-learning experiences (PERLS); and the creation of a common thematic repository of resources in use in current Language Flagship programs, named The Flagship Commons (currently under development).
- * Gruba, P., Cárdenas-Claros, M. S., Suvorov, R., & Rick, K. (2016). Blended language program evaluation. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
- * Gruba, P., & Hinkelman, D. (2012). Blending technologies in second language classrooms. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
- ** Bonk, C. J., & Graham, C. R. (2006). Handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.