“Blended learning” versus teaching with technology

When planning our recent report, Teaching with Technology: Educators’ perspectives and recommendations for successful blended instructional strategies, we debated how much to use the terms “blended learning” and “blended teaching” in the survey, interviews, and report.

The argument for using those terms was that the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning, which commissioned the study, is explicitly interested in blended learning and the most innovative uses of technology in education.

The argument against using those terms was first, that teachers don’t necessarily use the term blended learning, and second, even those that do may be applying a different definition than used by FBOL and other advocates.

The report title shows that we decided to lead with the phrase “teaching with technology,” but also reference blended instruction. This approach had some benefits in terms of broadening the pool of teachers who felt comfortable responding to the survey and interview requests. It also probably confuses some issues in our reporting as we didn't want to spend much time defining or debating the term “blended learning,” which may have left a few readers wondering what we meant by the terms blended learning and education technology at some points in the report.

But perhaps the most valuable result of our internal debate—and certainly the most visible—is that it forced us to think quite a bit about the components of teaching with technology along a spectrum of different types of implementation. We captured our ideas in a graphic on page 10 of the report:

MVU graphic.png

 The graphic builds on some earlier graphical dimensions of online and blended learning that we have iterated in conjunction with the folks at the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. We view it as a work in progress and hope to hear from readers with their views on how they would add to or change it.

 

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