Hello to all, topic 4 is about the design for online and blended learning.

Blended learning is an education model in which students learn via online media/tools as well as traditional tools.
There is a difference between blended and hybrid learning, since in hybrid learning, the online learners and the in-person learners are/can be different, while in blended learning, the online learners and the in-person learners are the same persons.

In my PBL group, we choose to focus on two aspects: “Challenges of multitasking in blended learning" and "Models or techniques for blended learning”.

What is multitasking in the field of education?
Example of multitasking: Searching readings in a database related to the topic of the course while listening to the lecture is multitasking.
Example of what is not multitasking in education: Doing something which is not related to teaching, e.g. answering private messages while listening to a lecture.

There are advantages and disadvantages of multitasking.

Let us start with its advantages. In the field of Arts, multitasking in blended learning can improve the learning experience. For example, doing some manual work (like drawing, modeling etc.) can even help students to focus and improve the intellectual learning process of learning in a lecture (online or on campus). Here, there are two parallel ongoing learning processes: learning by doing and learning by listening and watching (for example listening to a lecture or watching a painting). It is important that the two parallel types of learning are of different nature. In this situation, multitasking will definitely improve the learning experience.

Another advantage of multitasking is that it helps students to feel more accomplished because they can complete more than one task at a time.
This feeling of productivity (even if it is just an impression) increases the motivation and encourages students to keep working on their tasks.

However, multitasking has also disadvantages. A major disadvantage is that multitasking reduces the focus of students. Indeed, when the education field is more technical, say for example mathematics, multitasking can be less appropriate and does not help in the learning process at all. For example, when I teach mathematics, if I am presenting a new mathematical concept to my students, they must stay focused to understand the technical content that I am presenting. If they start doing something else at the same time, their focus is reduced and they are not able to follow my reasoning.

Thus, from my experience, I would say that multitasking in blended learning can be either good or bad depending on (how technical is) the field of study and on the experience of the students in that field.

The second question we discussed in our PBL group is: What is a good model for blended learning?
Many challenges arise in blended learning. The main challenges are (as stated in [1]) the expense of technology, inadequate training, technological issues, the need to adapt content for blended learning, decreased motivation, and weakened relationships between students and teachers .

A four phase model for designing blended learning has been proposed in [2] by the swiss center for innovations in learning . In this model, blended learning is designed as follows:
1- Preparation phase / guided self learning (4 weeks),
2- Classroom phase / facilitated learning with direct interaction (1-2 days),
3- Transfer phase / guided self learning (4-6 weeks),
4- Completion phase (feedback and discussions) through virtual meeting.

When I teach my master course about mathematical modeling in finance (which is done fully on campus), I usually give the students some introductory material that they should read in advance (preparation / guided self learning). After that, we have lectures in class to discuss this content (in classroom / direct interaction). Then, I give to the students individual projects and assignments (guided self learning). Finally, we have presentations of these projects results (discussion of results and feedback in classroom).

I also taught the same course fully online during the pandemic.

The structure of my course is quiet close to the structure used in the four phase model (alternating guided self learning with lectures and direct interaction). However, until now, I had the opportunity to teach this course either (fully) in class or (fully) online (during the pandemic). I am really excited to try the four phase model for blended learning in this course as soon as I am given the opportunity.


[1] Link: https://study.com/academy/lesson/challenges-of-blended-learning-models.html
[2] Source: Sabine Seufert (2013): Bildungsmanagement. Stuttgart. P. 243 │scil: swiss centre for innovations in learning (www.scil.ch)

Reflections about blended learning