There are lots of definitions for the term “blended learning” – it means something different to each educator and user. But there are two very basic ways to understand what it actually is:
- For eLearning it is a cohesive mix of multimedia, quizzes, and student interaction in an online environment similar to Google Hangouts.
- For traditional in-person instruction it is the addition of online resources, student community, and many of the elements used in eLearning, into the physical classroom for more variety in presentations.
Individual students learn in different ways and may have preferences for audio, visual, or kinesthetic processes. The point of blended learning is to approach learning through several methods so that people can actively engage and learn in the ways that work best for them. For online learning that translates into creating a supportive digital environment with appropriate elements, events and content that make the subject matter and key points accessible to each individual student, one way or another.
There are much better approaches to teaching than having students follow a step-by-step list or memorize isolated facts by rote. True learning occurs when students are active and involved in the process. This is why the variety of blended learning is so effective.
Maintaining a human connection is helpful by establishing a digital culture for student discussion and sharing by incorporating a Skype or webinar-type life-event format for at least some course meetings, or even having occasional in-person classroom time, or collective events wherever that may be an option. An integrated platform like LifterLMS expands upon these capabilities by offering built-in access to existing resources like Google Hangouts, WordPress and InfusionSoft, as well as events, scheduling and memberships.
It is important as a course creator to know the tools and resources that are available to you with a Learning Management System like LifterLMS so you can begin to visualize how your expanded learning architecture can look. In fact, we would love to see you post your ideas in the comments below for ways you can use blended learning in your courses.
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joshua millage: Hello, everyone. We’re back with another episode of LMScast. I’m Joshua Millage. I’m joined today with Christopher Badgett. Before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to tell you that you can always find show notes and other awesome things at LMScast.com. Also, if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to go there and sign up on our email newsletter, so that you can be notified when we have cool events as well as when new episodes come available.
Today, is all about blended learning. I want to kick it off by going to our subject matter expert here, Chris. Asking you, Chris, “What is blended learning? What’s the term mean?” It’s a new term to me. The follow up question to that is, “How does that apply to online education?”
chris badgett: Absolutely. Well, I think blended learning is one of those terms that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I’m still learning too of all the different aspects of that. When we get into the e-learning or online education space, there’s a lot of buzz words like “blended learning” or “flipped classroom”, “instructional design” and all of these things. Everybody has their own definition. For the purposes here, I like to look at blended learning in terms of some educational content and ways of teaching and learning on-line outside of just passively dumping videos, text, and audio in front of people without engagement and stuff like that. How to blend the learning styles and the mediums and the learning opportunities beyond just passive top down education.
joshua millage: An example could be a Google Hangout. Would that fit into the line of what you consider blended learning?
chris badgett: Absolutely. I think events are a huge part of blended learning or blending what’s possible in an online education format. That could be an online event like with a Google Hangout or it could be an in-person event that happens daily, monthly, once a year, once every four years, whatever it is, that is a part of that learning journey for that course or that program. Online and offline events can a really important part of education.
joshua millage: Yeah. I agree. It’s interesting when you switch it up because the human connection can be automated to some degree but it doesn’t replace the fact that when you can get someone on a Webinar or even a Skype chat like this, it does help create an even deeper human connection. In an online class setting, I don’t think there’s anything that can truly replace that. So, it’s real important.
You mention different types of blended learning. At a high level, what are the different types or categories of blended learning?
chris badgett: Josh?
joshua millage: I’m back.
chris badgett: I don’t know if that was mine or yours.
joshua millage: Just jump right into where we were with the different types of blended learning.
chris badgett: OK. There’s a lot of types of learning that can be blended together for online education. That could be multimedia. That could be the type of quizzes or assignments that you give your students. It could involve social interaction between students and with the teacher or just among students themselves. Basically, when you’re trying to teach something and somebody is trying to learn something, there are so many different ways to get to the end result besides just telling somebody what to do, step-by-step, and going through a rote memorization process.
When I look at lifterLMS as an online learning solution for people with WordPress, I start thinking about other powerful tools that are readily available like the Google Hangout where we’re currently building out integrations with Google so that you can bring in that Hangout experience or that schedule or that calendar of events and integrate that easily into your learning management system. The same would be true for an event that’s within your course or your membership. You may have all this online training and then, once a year, there’s some big event somewhere in the world where all these people come together around this topic or this skill set to further their learning experience and become even stronger within that learning community.
joshua millage: I like that. You’re actually talking about everyone flying somewhere, meeting up, getting in person, and having an event that way. That’s cool.
chris badgett: Absolutely.
joshua millage: That’s really something we want to do too with lifterLMS. We’re talking about Lifter Live, which the details will come out some time early next year. We’re going to get everyone in a room, hopefully out there in Montana, and build courses together. Talk about how we can do better online education, really. From a business standpoint, marketing standpoint, course design. We’re going to have speakers come in. It’s going to be a lot of fun. That is our own way of building out what we believe is blended learning in the architectural infrastructure side of the LMS space.
I think we even have people who help others learn how to quilt and having a quilting conference or Infusionsoft where I have a long track record of creating content and meeting people and working. They do ICON every year, which I think is arguably one of the best events of the entire year, even if you didn’t own Infusionsoft. That creates a lot of cool blended learning because all the content they send out a year, they have sessions there. It really solidifies things because you get to ask all the questions that you had all year in one setting and get them all taken out. It’s really fun.
chris badgett: If I may give like another example that’s less extreme in the sense of one big event a year …
joshua millage: Yeah.
chris badgett: For some people, blended learning just means it’s a daily thing where you have your class time. If you’re a traditional teacher, teaching in a more traditional, in-person way, at whatever level or traditional or nontraditional course. If you’re physically teaching a roomful of students, you may have that “life event” every day or five days a week or whatever. Then, you’re blending in the online supplemental materials and assignments and community and things that you can do in the online space. That’s another way to look at blended learning just as part of the day-to-day of your learning program.
joshua millage: Yeah. I think it’s important. Everyone learns differently. Audio, visual, kinesthetic … They all should be taken into account. I think the kinesthetic people benefit a lot from the blended learning and the interaction. That motion really helps them pay attention. I can say that because I’m one of them. I have to stay … That’s why I stand up and I’m on a stand-up desk right now moving around because it’s just how I am.
This is awesome, Chris. It’s an episode where I think people should start to create ideas around what this could look like for them. I would really be excited to hear in the comments on LMScast.com on the comments below this post, if people could share different ways that they’re going to utilize blended learning in their courses. Maybe we can showcase them in a later episode. I think there’s so many unique ways to do this. It would be great to showcase what other people are doing and really distribute that information to others to inspire and help us all create better online education.
chris badgett: Absolutely. Just at the high macro level, another thing I wanted to bring up, is just the social part of learning. If you’re using lifterLMS, for example, if you have a course of a lesson and the teachers and the students start commenting, you’re creating what’s known as digital culture. Then, the live event, like the ICON Infusionsoft event you mentioned, that’s a cultural get-together around this product Infusionsoft but it’s in-person. It’s like bumping shoulders with people. It’s not like non-digital culture. That’s just like live culture like a sub-group of that culture. I think it’s really important when you approach your WordPress Learning Management System and your e-learning platform, is to get outside the thinking of the either/or mentality.
I teach in real life or in person. I’m an online educator. Digital culture is my thing. The most powerful things for the future, that I see, have to do with combining and merging those two to be rubbing shoulders and rubbing pixels together at the same time to really flush out that learning experience in both mediums.
joshua millage: Yeah. Well, we’re creating the tools to do it and the community will help us get there. It’s a different world. We’re on the cusp of this dramatic change that’s going to happen. Our kids are not going to learn the same way we did. We need to be ready for that. Cool. Well, let’s cap this episode off and keep it short and to the point for everyone so they can get out there and start creating bigger and badder courses. We’d love to hear from you. Go to our website, LMScast.com. Leave us a comment. Make sure to sign up with your email so we can notify you of some of the cool things that are coming down the pipeline. Hope you’re having a great day. We’ll talk to you next week.