Workshop Summary – Blended Learning Ecosystems: Designing Blended Learning Courses for 21st Century Learners

This 90 minute workshop lead participants through a discussion about the essential elements of the Blended Learning Ecosystem and how those elements together must be considered for the experience to be a success. In the example used by the presenter, the BL ecosystem includes the environment(s) in which the learning takes place, the people engaged in that learning experience, and the resources employed to facilitate teaching and learning. The participants broke into groups to discuss various parts of the ecosystem including faculty characteristics, student characteristics, technology characteristics, learning tools, and environments (classrooms, LMS, etc).

One statement made within the group rang true. That both the faculty and students must thrive in the learning environment. Faculty must be comfortable with and feel fulfilled by the design of the blended learning experience. Students must also be confortable with and feel like they can be successful if they apply themselves.

After the group breakout and sharing, the presenter introduced a number of possible course structures that could be considered blended learning. There was then a discussion again among the group to discern what model is most common at their institutions.

A warning against course and a half syndrome was interjected by many in the group. Course and a half syndrome is where instead of redesigning a course for the blended learning approach, the instructor simply adds more content/activities to the course that are often not integrated into the course goals/objectives or referenced within the course discussions, but still required activities. This work is seen by the students as extra/busy work.

The presentation slidedecks can be found at
http://sites.google.com/site/blendedlearningworkshop/course-structure.

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