Online and blended learning settings are well suited to the effective construction of knowledge due to the diverse resource-base, student centredness and ability to set context (Bonk & Graham, 2006; Oliver, 2001). Blended learning is portrayed to be more intricate than isolating parts into online and face-to-face; rather it is a marriage of interactions facilitated by a variety of modes, methods and moments (Bonk & Graham, 2006).
The level at which online (and other) technologies are integrated with face-to-face teaching will vary as depicted below:
Blended learning approaches have advanced active learning strategies, peer-to-peer strategies and learner-centred strategies (Bonk & Graham, 2006). Elliott Masie (2006) outlines several reasons to blend learning :
- Multiple perspectives on content - indicating that greater knowledge can be achieved through repetition and different learning processes i.e. a blend of methods.
- Learning is longitudinal - learning is, at times, a process that occurs over time, with blended strategies able to facilitate this process.
- Learning is social - "Blended learning recognises and aligns with social dimensions of learning" (Masie, 2006, p. 25).
A recent meta-analysis conducted in the US compared effectiveness, in terms of learning, between online and face-to-face teaching (US Department of Education, 2009). Its conclusions, based mainly on higher education studies, found that in general, students in online courses outperformed students in comparative face-to-face classes. Interestingly, the greatest gains were found for students taught in blended learning environments. The authors were at pains to point out that the differences were not a result of the technologies per se but of the affordances that the technologies provided.
Presentation - A blended approach to enriching learning
Bonk, C., & Graham, C. (2006). The Blended Learning Handbook: global perspectives and local design: Pfeiffer.
Masie, E. (2006). The Blended Learning Imperative. In C. Bonk & C. Graham (Eds.), The Blended Learning Handbook: global perspectives and local design: Pfeiffer.
Oliver, R. (2001). eLearning for Knowledge Construction. In S. Stoney & J. Burns (Eds.), Working for excellence in the e-conomy. Churchlands: Australia We-B Centre.