An Introduction to Blended Learning

Blended learning can take on a variety of forms in both offline and online education environments. Generally, it involves a complementary combination of offline (face-to-face, traditional learning) and online learning, which provides individuals with the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds. In this post, I discuss the advantages of blended learning and the model I use in my tertiary teaching practice.

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As 21st century graduates, you will witness an accelerated pace of social, economic and technological change throughout your career. While excellent technical production skills are vital to the creation of high quality media content, in a competitive job marked and an over-saturate media market these skills alone will not be enough to satisfy discerning audiences or the demands of industry.

The 21st Century Skills You Need For Today’s Job Market

21c skills

21c skills

"If our programmes are adequately to prepare graduates to meet the challenges and demands of the creative industries, our learning environment must be trans-disciplinary, enable students to extend their limits, and develop skills of inquiry…we must lead our students to ‘see’ these tools and processes as opportunities to develop the critical thinking skills needed to make informed decisions in the application of such tools…" (pp. 96–97)

Rutherford. (2015). Improving studentengagement in commercial art and design programmes. International Journal of Art andDesign Education, 34(1),pp. 89-101.

21st Century Learning

Q. So how do we deliver quality education that will ensure you are prepared for a 21st century career?

A. By delivering quality content using innovative pedagogical methods such as blended learning.


Blended learning is a mode of content delivery and instruction that combines traditional face-to-face instruction with online learning tasks and computer-mediated activities.

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Blended learning can take on a variety of forms in both offline and online education environments. Generally, it involves a complementary combination of offline (face-to-face, traditional learning) and online learning, which provides individuals with the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Sometimes referred to as hybrid learning, students may be expected to complete online multimedia coursework, attend classes in a real-world classroom setting and maintain regular communication with tutors and peers between classes using digital tools.

This mix-mode approach to learning means that students have more flexibility regarding how and when they engage with the module's core content, allowing them to study at their own pace. "It's also been suggested that students who complete online coursework followed by interactive, face-to-face class activities have richer educational experiences" (E-front Learning, 2014).

E-front Learning (2014). E-learning 101. Concepts, trends application. San Francisco, CA: Epignosis.

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By using state of the art web 2.0 based technology in blended learning, achievement of the learning goals may be drastically improved. Even more important is the potential for enabling innovative learning environments with greater emphasis on students’ collaborative learning, and teachers in a more mentoring and advisory role. Both the students collaborating in producing the learning material and the effects of community and peer reviews and interaction facilitated by social media use in a course are important factors for change in this direction.

Olsen,T.O. and Horgen, S.A.(2013). Social media in blended learning. In 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference Proceedings, (pp. 240-246).Valencia: Spain.

The Future of Education is Blended

Blended Learning

Have Big University Lectures Gone Out of Fashion?

No longer can students sit passively and imbibe information – today's 'blended learning' approach demands engagement and ideas.

Have big university lectures gone out of fashion?

he best lecture I ever went to saw an inspirational academic – Professor David Ian Rabey; credit where credit’s due – cracking an egg over his own head. A roomful of undergraduates watched, fascinated and aghast, as the yolky glop slid down his face and dripped on the floor.


The flipped classroom is a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional teaching model by delivering online lecture content to students before they come to class and moving activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered post-lecture 'homework', into the classroom.

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FLN Shares its Four Pillars of Flipped Learning — THE Journal

To counter common misconceptions and offer educators a practical framework for Flipped Learning, the governing board and key leaders of the Flipped Learning Network (FLN) today announced a formal definition of the term. They also offered educators their Four Pillars of Flipped Learning and an 11-point checklist to help guide teachers and administrators.

The flipped classroom is informed by constructivist pedagogy and represents a shift from passive to active learning to focus on higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation (see Brame, 2013).

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"The important feature of flipped classrooms is not that they are new, or that they represent a move away from traditional lectures, or even that they use technologies. Rather, the issue is that flipped classroom approaches combine pedagogy and learning technologies in ways that extend to large numbers of student’s opportunities for deep learning through application and consolidation" (Sankey and Hunt, 2014).

Brame, C. J. (2013). Flipping the classroom. Vanderbilt University, Center for teaching.

Sankey, M., & Hunt, L. (2014) Flipped university classrooms: using technology to enable sound pedagogy. Journal of Cases on Information Technology, 16 (2). pp. 26-38.

Why Flip a Classroom?

The Flipped Class: Rethinking Space & Time

Digital Literacy

Digital literacy generally refers to the ability to understand and create electronically distributed media. This includes blogs, wikis, podcasts, tweets and other forms of social media and interactive digital content. As creative media educators, we can develop dynamic, interactive social resources that supplant mundane unimodal textbooks to more fully engage students and help them to succeed and thrive in a world dominated by digital communication. A multimodal text combines two or more communication modes (for example, print media, graphic design, photography, illustration, animation, film, music, spoken dialogue, interactive content). In the blended model we are exploring here, such texts are presented and curated in an interconnected digital environment.

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And for all the teachers reading this, check out the blog post below for a few tips on integrating social content into Moodle.

Give your Moodle a Makeover

Critical Digital Literacy

Critical Digital Literacy


In the flipped classroom, the roles and expectations of students and teachers change. Students take more responsibility for their own learning and study core content either individually or in groups before class and then (using higher order thinking) apply their new knowledge and skills to a range of activities both in class and during the time between scheduled classes. This means that we are able to spend more time on concept exploration, meaning-making and demonstration or application of knowledge in the face-to-face setting.

Online delivery

Each week you will receive an email from your course convenor instructing you to complete an online lesson prior to attending your weekly tutorial. It is essential that your complete the online lesson before you come to class.

Lessons have been purposefully designed by expert lecturers at SAE to communicate core content and enhance your understanding of related concepts and theories. Each lesson has been narrated to suit the level of reading comprehension and media literacy expected of students. Lessons feature a range of text, images and audio-visual content which has been collated, categorised, analysed, evaluated and synthesised into a online lesson. Please read/watch/listen carefully to the entire lesson and complete all pre-tutorial activities specified in the lesson.

Lessons are designed to take approximately one hour to complete. However, you are able to complete this at your own pace. So think less about time and more about your understanding of the topic. If you are finding something a little difficult then give yourself more time and make sure you engage with some of the supplementary learning materials provided.

Face-to-face delivery

What is important is that you come to your tutorial with this prior knowledge. This content will not be regurgitated by your tutor in class time. Rather, the ideas and activities outlined in the online lesson will be extended upon and our face-to-face class time will be dedicated to exploring topics in greater depth, creating meaningful learning opportunities.

Check out this diagram below, which attempts to illustrate how we expect CIU students to engage with new concepts and activate their learning at SAE Creative Media Institute.

learning diagram

learning diagram


The following are some frequently asked questions about engagement with the content and what is expected of the students in a blended setting at SAE.

Are there face-to-face lectures for this module?

The short answer is no. Formal face-to-face lectures on each campus have been replaced with an online component, which is supported by two-hour face-to-face tutorials. The things you need to know for the tutorial are given to you beforehand. You can go through these in your own time, at a pace that works for you in preparation for your next tutorial. When you come to the next tutorial, you will engage with this content with your tutor and peers. Your online lessons will be made available via campus online under the ‘classes’ tab each week. Weekly tasks and readings that you are to complete prior to attending your tutorials are located under the ‘weekly tasks’ tab. New tasks will be posted as you are required to complete them, so please check this regularly.

How much time does the module take?

The module has a workload of 9 hours per week. This time is split between the 2 hour face to face tutorial component and the remaining time interacting with the online materials, interacting with your peers online, doing assessments and undertaking self directed learning as required.

How does the online component relate to what I do in my tutorials?

The things that you do in the tutorial time are based on the content, which is provided via Campus Online. All of your in tutorial activities relate to this material. It is essential that you look at this content prior to coming to your tutorial.

How do I get the most out of the online components?

Read through all the information and topics for the week, complete all learning tasks outlined in the lesson and take notes when you encounter something of interest. Write clarifying questions for things you may not understand and use the online discussion forum and chat sessions to engage in conversation outside of class time.

How do I communicate online with my peers and tutor?

There are many ways to communicate online.The mechanism for this will be indicated in Campus Online for your module. Note that interaction with your peers and tutors will be a necessary part of the module. The student forum is the ideal place to start a discussion about a weekly reading, ask teachers or peers a question about the online content, and share any work you create as part of the set lesson tasks.


The most effective way to retain new information and expand our intellectual capabilities involves active rather than passive learning. Passive learners wait for the teacher to 'feed' them information in class and usually do little with this new information between classes.

If you have been a passive learner in the past then you're probably aware of how quickly you forget what you were taught. That's because we tend to lose almost 40% of new information within the first 24 hours of first discovering it (Brown, 2015). However, there is a way for us to retain and retrieve almost 100% of what we learn if we adapt our approach to learning and become active learners.

Active learning places the responsibility for learning on the learner. This means that you need to be doing things with the material you are engaging with at regular intervals between classes and be prepared to come to class ready to evaluate what you did with this new information and synthesise, critique and extend upon this information with your tutor and peers.

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Put Pen to Paper

Get yourself a notebook to keep all your thoughts and notes in and always bring this to your tutorial. Use your notes to help guide the discussions in class, to monitor your learning progression, clarify your own understanding and journal your thoughts about the relationship between the lesson content and your professional practice. Although 'putting pen to paper' may seem less efficient than tapping away at our keyboards, don't underestimate the value of note-taking.

Here’s Why Writing Things Out By Hand Makes You Smarter

Typing is fast. Handwriting is slow. Weirdly, that’s precisely why handwriting is better suited to learning. Take it from research psychologists Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M.

Time Management

Good time management is essential for successful self-directed learning. While the lesson activities and pre-tutorial tasks will differ from week to week and from module to module, it is generally advised that you give yourself at least three days to completed the online lesson and accompanying tasks before attending your tutorial.

Designing a study timetable that incorporates short but regular times for re-engaging with content and revising your notes and questions is the most effective way of learning.

7 Time Management Tips for Students

With exams approaching, you should be thinking about how to get better at time management and organize your days so you can strike the right balance between home, work and university life. You should also try and eat some brain food – and no, we don’t mean crisps and energy drinks!

For a more comprehensive overview of generic study skills check out this informative student guide which you can download as a PDF at this link.

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Developing a Growth Mindset

And finally, a little bit of inspiration never goes astray. The key to learning is not how smart you are, but how willing you are to learn new things. As Carol Dweck proposed in her book Mindset: The new psychology of success, a fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, a growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure “not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

Growth Mindset Video


Learn more about Blended Learning and Teaching Strategies

Critical Pedagogy 3.0

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