The possibilities for designing for online teaching has exploded the last ten years. When I think back to my first taught online course in 2012 the difference in the possibilities is enormous. I still think there is a lot we lose in the non-verbal clues in online setting as communication is complex. There dialogue between the teacher and the learner and between the learners is therefore of utmost importance, but with the tools we have today the possibilities are there to create a fantastic learning experience.

Blended learning has different meaning for different people. In our group the facilitators made a questionnaire to us to better understand what we mean with blended learning mean and to see if we would find a common understanding. They accompanied the questionnaire with an attempt to define blended learning based on Hrastinski (2019):

“essentially all types of education that include some aspect of face-to-face learning and online learning are being described as blended learning in the literature. Since blended learning seems to mean many things, it is important that researchers and practitioners carefully describe what blended learning means to them. Blended learning is also used to describe other blends, such as combining different instructional methods, pedagogical approaches or technologies, although these blends are not aligned with the most influential blended learning definitions.” (Hrastinski, 2019, p. 568).That is in line with the definition by Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes & Garrison (2013), “the core of blended learning is the integration of face-to-face and online learning activities”.

The results showed that we had a pretty coherent understanding of blended learning and that it encompasses combining different instructional methods, combining pedagogical approaches and combining different delivery methods. In our sessions we then told our stories about how we have used online and blended learning, which gave me a wonderful picture of all the different ways that can be accomplished.

My own experience is when we at Mälardalen University, together with three other international universities, in May of this year arranged a Hackathon where 17 students from four countries collaborated for 24 hours. They met 24 hours before the start of the Hackathon to get to know another. Before the Hackathon started they did a team collaboration exercise and then a idea generating session together with one of our teachers. All of this was done online. We emphasised that the assignment to me made had to be collaborative and not divided up between the team members. We, as mentors,met the teams every third hour. It was fascinating to see all the online tools they used when creating, writing and then presenting their ideas. 

The groups were only between 3-4 students and I think that contributed to them being able to collaborate so well. The students were also very motivated as they had to apply for the Hackathon and get admitted to the competition. However, I think,  foremost that the team work exercise before the actual assignment, in line with with Coll et al. (2013:42), “require students to establish ways of interacting with one another and to be clear about the task and its demands, rather than focusing exclusively on the learning content.” 

We received wonderful testimonials afterwards and we will do another Hackathon next year and use all the knowledge we gained this year to make the design for online and blended learning even better. I am already looking forward to it!


Coll, C., Rochera Villach, M., Gispert, I. D., & Diaz Barriga, F. (2013). Distribution of feedback among teacher and students in online collaborative learning in small groups. Digital Education Review, 2013, num. 23, p. 27-46.

Hrastinski, S. (2019). What do we mean by blended learning? TechTrends, 63(5), 564-569. DOI:10.1007/s11528-019-00375-5Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press. Chapter 1 “The Community of Inquiry Conceptual framework”

Online teaching and creating a space for learning