3 pathways to blended learning success

Using technology to develop a hybrid teaching model designed to give students more choice in how and where they learn

Reading recent headlines about the importance of face-to-face learning, you’d almost be forgiven for thinking the on-campus experience is the only pathway to achievement in higher education (HE).

Of course, the opportunities to bring students together in one teaching space are critical for giving them the chance to work collaboratively and share their views on the subjects they are learning about. But with an effective blended learning strategy and the right technology in place, you can ensure those students who are unable to physically attend, for whatever reason, don’t miss out.

Since I’ve been a senior marketing lecturer at the University of Kentucky, I have developed and refined what I call the 3 in 1 hybrid teaching methodology to give students more flexible learning options.

With the 3 in 1 approach, students attend in person if possible and if not, they can join a livestream of the session remotely at the same time as their on-campus peers.

The third critical strand in the 3 in 1 model is the video and other recorded content all students have access to 24/7, which they use to build on what they’ve learned in class, regardless of how they choose to participate.

I’ve been teaching this way for years and my students love it. So, what are the advantages?

Visual learning in action

You might think that allowing students to make the choice to come to campus in person or not would result in falling numbers and less engagement; but the opposite has been true. I have seen the positive impact of using technology to provide my students with more flexible learning options and I wouldn’t go back.

Using the quizzing and polling tools in our hybrid teaching and learning platform (we use Echo360), I can incorporate the essential visual elements I need to create a great lesson on the principles of marketing, then deliver it to students on site and those watching the live stream simultaneously.

So, I might start with an image-based quiz on corporate branding, for example, then run a poll to gather students’ opinions on which of four controversial ad campaigns they think are most likely to encourage a consumer to buy.

A classroom discussion on the behavioural science behind digital marketing could follow and then I might drop a Likert scale questionnaire in at the end to capture students’ own experiences as consumers.

In my experience, there’s been far more engagement from students in my 3 in 1 hybrid classroom than I could ever achieve with 400 plus students sitting side-by-side in the auditorium listening to me talk.

Digital learning community

It’s been wonderful to see the peer-to-peer support between on-campus students and those studying remotely, which lights up our online chat channel.

Those students who might not feel confident enough to contribute to group discussions or ask questions tend to be much more comfortable doing this on a digital messaging thread, and they can get answers immediately from either myself or one of their peers without anyone having to shout out from the back of a room. It brings a greater diversity of opinions for a much richer learning experience.

In my experience, there’s been far more engagement from students in my 3 in 1 hybrid classroom than I could ever achieve with 400 plus students sitting side-by-side in the auditorium listening to me talk

The learning can continue long after the scheduled class is over, too. Students will revisit lecture recordings and slide decks either in their entirety or to dip into specific topics again and refresh their knowledge.

If a student didn’t get the answer to a question on digital marketing strategy right first time around, they can rewatch the relevant section of the recorded lecture and respond to a new set of questions on the topic asynchronously. This really helps to clarify areas of confusion and gives students another chance to succeed.

Everyone gets full transcriptions of recorded content too, which are valuable study aids for all students, particularly those who speak additional languages or have special needs.

Tailored support

With the 3 in 1 hybrid model, I can double the size of my student cohort and keep participation levels up without having to find extra physical space to accommodate a larger group on-campus.

It’s easy to see at a glance who’s participating in the polls, how they are responding and whether they’re accessing the lecture recordings and other resources available to them through a data dashboard on the system

It’s easy to see at a glance who’s participating in the polls, how they are responding and whether they’re accessing the lecture recordings and other resources available to them through a data dashboard on the system. So, whether students are physically there or watching the live stream remotely becomes almost irrelevant.

Providing more flexible learning options has added to my students’ experience of learning and with the 3 in 1 hybrid model, I have been able to take the traditional blended learning approach to the next level.


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