What is blended learning and teaching?
Higher education in general is moving towards flexible forms of provision, and increasingly includes mixes of blended and fully online provision in various configurations.
The blended approach to teaching and learning uses a combination of online and face-to-face teaching and learning modes and methods. A course (or module, programme or other form of teaching) may be mostly online with minimal face-to-face contact or mainly taught face-to-face with some content or interaction online. The balance between face-to-face teaching and online content depends on what the educator involved decides.
Blended learning incorporates content, assessment and the interactions (exchanges, discussions etc.) between students and staff and amongst students themselves. As in all teaching and learning experiences, the best combination of the above (online or face-to-face) maximises the benefits and capabilities of each mode. Some online courses have a lot of discussion forums or real -time chats, others have more videos of lectures or demonstrations. Assessment can take different forms, and even exams can be taken fully online.
Online content may include videos, slide shows, presentations, screencasts and so on. Forms of interaction may be synchronous (at the same time) or asynchronous (at different times). A variety of tools is available for all aspects of blended learning.
Blended learning is used in multiple ways, in different disciplinary contexts and for different purposes. Its quality varies in the same way that the quality of traditional face to face teaching varies.
The Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at UCT has created a support and resource Guide for UCT lecturers for online teaching; this provides an overview of different blended teaching and learning possibilities. It may be helpful to support the completion of the 2016 academic year. Acutely mindful of the inequities of provision, CILT has also created a Guide for academics and educators to support students with access needs. The guide has also been adapted into a helpful infographic for students looking for support.