One of my favorite scenes from the GOTG series.

In my “,final” assignment post for ONL222, I committed to continuing developing my understanding of technology-enhanced learning and logging my reflections via blogging even after the course has ended. In Dec2022, I shared about ,HECC while in Jan 2023, I had a fun time co-authoring a ,post on ChatGPT with Jacqueline Hoppenreijs (@JHTHoppenreijs). So for Feb’s post, I intend to focus on Blended Learning (BL) as I had also completed Commonwealth of Learning’s ,Blended Learning Practice (BLP) MOOC during this same month.


The world of learning is changing rapidly. Traditional classrooms are being replaced by BL courses, and universities around the world are working hard to keep up with the changes. To get a better understanding of how to blend technology and distance education teaching strategies with traditional, in-person classroom activities, I signed up for BLP, a 4 week long MOOC with thousands of learners from around the world. Participants shared experiences in implementing BL, including successes and challenges. It was fun to see my NUS colleagues @Wanyun & @MingGuang actively contributing on the forums!

WHO is doing BL well? HOW?

BL advocates were invited as guest speakers to shed more light into this topic. One of the notable speakers was Mr. Brian Lorraine from Simon Fraser University (SFU)’s ,Centre for Education Excellence (CEE). Brian is an instructional designer who supports teams with their online and blended learning initiatives, working directly with instructors to design or redesign courses into new blended and online formats.

During a webinar, ,Brian shared his experience planning and implementing blended learning at SFU from early 2021 up to present day. Their Flexible Blended Learning Initiative, provides students with more options in how they learn and interact with their course material. Brian also shared how blending different modes of content delivery together can be challenging but also very rewarding.

From consulting with faculty and students on what types of courses would be best suited for blended learning to establishing a task force to push formal adoption of the initiative, I see similarities in ,NUS’s & SFU’s BL implementation strategies. That led me to check out his tweets ,@BL_OLtweet where I found several insightful posts and resources that bridges the gap between culture, learning, and technology. A kindred spirit!

// as I was writing this post, my 16 year old son, Howie suddenly stopped by my desk... //

Howie: Hi Dad, whatcha doing?

Me: Just writing a reflection blog post on Blended Learning.

Howie: Cool. Can I have a read?

Me: Sure, help yourself.

// 5 minutes later //

Howie: Hmmm… Dad, actually most of my friends don’t really like BL. Not just those from my secondary school.

Me: Really? Tell me more.

Howie: Well, during COVID, since the whole world was forced to go online, my friends and I just had to suck it up. We understand that it’s supposed to be better, but given a choice, many of us preferred the traditional classroom approach.

Me: Why? BL can give you the best of both worlds. Some things you can do on your own via online and free up time for more in-depth class discussion when you meet your teachers f2f.

Howie: True, but we feel it’s an extra burden on us. What was previously the teacher’s responsibility is now shifted to us. I mean, if it was just 1 or 2 subjects on BL, we still could manage. But during COVID, so many things were suddenly put online instead. On many occasions, we ended up not completing the pre-assigned readings before going to class. As we did not want to embarrass ourselves, we faked it. Of course, the diligent students who prepared, were able to ask good questions and got the best deal out of it. For the rest of us juggling ECAs and other commitments, we sometimes went to class unprepared. So, when the teachers deep dived, we were quite lost.

Me: Schools are trying to develop you all into self-directed learners. There is only so much they can do but at least they are trying to introduce to you early and get you accustomed to it. Don’t you find this a huge time savings by not having to travel back and forth from school?

Howie: Definitely! Not having to wake up early and squeezing into buses/ trains is one of the best perks. However, doing so many classes online gets boring pretty fast.

Me: I recall your school using Zoom, Google Classroom, Padlet, Kahoot, ,Blooket and ,Singapore Learning Space (SLS). These tools allow you to stay engaged during your synchronous classes right?

Howie: That’s only partially true. Yes, some tools like Blooket are fun. However, we also find it quite distracting when we are learning via online. The temptation to multi-task is too great. My favorite thing about BL is having the ability to rewind and rewatch the teacher’s pre-recorded videos, but sometimes I don’t even have time to watch them before going to class.

Me: Hey, you never told me that before!

Howie: Ha.. ha..!. With O levels over now, I guess it’s OK to let the cat out of the bag. Anyway, l learnt my lesson and will be more mindful of how I plan my time at polytechnic.

Me: Yes, what’s done is done, you are right to look ahead and stay focused on your next adventure at Singapore Poly (SP). Sounds like if you improve your time management, you would reap more benefits from the BL approach.

Howie: Time management is crucial. Just that as a secondary school student, we haven’t really mastered it well. Can’t imagine how much tougher it is for younger primary school students.

Me: Curious, if you were ,SST principal for a day, and got some help from Kang the Conqueror ,to change the timeline, what would you do to improve the learning experience?

Howie: Haha! If I travelled back in time and was able to influence my former school, I would compel all SST teachers to force students to complete their pre-readings before Home-Based Learning. Those who did not ,will be pruned. Completing a simple quiz 1-2 days before the lesson starts or sharing thoughts through a forum / Padlet would allow teachers to get a sense of how prepared the students are. Imagine how much more interesting the actual classes would be if everyone came prepared!

Me: That was an interesting conversation son. So glad you are not in charge of TVA. I’ll love to hear more about your BL experience at SP when you start school in April!

// after this exchange with my son, it led me to reflect... When is the right time to do BL? //


Between ,ONL & BLP, I learnt a bunch of things about BL, e.g. what is BL, where would BL work, ,how to design for BL, type of technologies for BL, as well as how to evaluate BL design. However, it’s only with this recent conversation with my son that I truly reflected on when is the right time to introduce BL.

In general, the best time to introduce blended learning is when there is a clear need or desire to enhance the learning experience or to address specific challenges or issues in the current teaching format. Conventional wisdom will be to introduce BL gradually, starting with incorporating a few online components into the course or program and gradually increasing the amount of online content over time. This can help to ease students and instructors into the new format and provide opportunities for adjustments as needed. Alternatively, a small-scale pilot program can be used to assess the effectiveness of BL and help identify any challenges or issues that need to be addressed.

COVID forced many schools to switch to ,emergency remote teaching (ERT). This knee jerk reaction might have pushed too many things online, too suddenly. Resulting in some students and teachers not adjusting well to the new norm. With COVID finally easing, schools are learning from the experience to strike a right balance between online and f2f classes.

At NUS, our BL courses are introduced at the start of the new academic year. This provides more time for students and instructors to adapt to the new format. To ensure that the BL course is properly planned, content well designed, the preparation work by NUS faculty members can range from 3 to 12 months.

My conversation with Howie, uncovered my unconscious bias that BL is suitable for learners of all ages. In the course of my work experience, my target audience has always been working adults (healthcare) or undergraduates. Both groups are basically adult learners who are more self-motivated. Perhaps, as we reflect on BL implementation, we should look not just at what or how to implement BL, but also when to do it.

In Summary

As we move forward into a new digital landscape of education, it is important that we keep an open mind and continue to learn and reflect on best practices in BL. I am grateful to find BL-advocates like Brian Lorraine, who generously share their expertise in digital education development. However, I am pleasantly surprised by insights I gathered from a casual conversation with my teenage son.

Keep on learning everyone! #blendedlearning #ONL4ever

One of my favorite scenes from the GOTG series.


Benedict Chia

25 Feb 2023

When is Blended Learning?