Research: Policy implications when implementing blended learning

A paper in this month’s Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration offers terrific insight into blended learning at the university level, and in particular, a policy analysis framework that has implications at the K-12 level. Lori Wallace and Jon Young created a policy research case study based on two years at the University of Manitoba as the University increased its use of blended learning. The paper, titled Implementing Blended Learning: Policy Implications for Universities, is available at

In talking about the fairly recent rise of online and blended learning, they note:

On the one hand, these technologies may enhance and even transform the ways in which we teach and the ways in which our students learn. On the other, adoption of such technologies without clear goals, and careful planning and support runs the risk of cannibalizing or ineffectively using scarce resources, frustrating users, and generating poor learning outcomes.

They go on to identify the various reasons for moving courses online from three perspectives: student, faculty and managerial / administrative. They argue that being deliberate about understanding those motivations is critical to ensuring the successful transformation of each course. In turn, having policies and procedures in place for faculty to move courses online is more likely create a smooth transition for students, faculty, and administration.

The case study describes how the University of Manitoba addressed the issues raised, offering one possible model for schools to look to as they increase online and blended learning options. While K-12 schools deal with different administrative and political issues, the framework offered here is a great resource for schools seeking to be proactive in their move to online and blended learning.