What is Blended Learning?
Since 2014, Griffith College has designed, developed and delivered a suite of blended learning programmes from undergraduate law and business to postgraduate education diplomas and professional accountancy courses. This innovative and interactive learning experience is delivered through a combination of online teaching and activities and classroom-based learning in our well-resourced campuses.
What is it?
Blended learning is a flexible way of completing your course of study, combining online aspects with in-classroom experience to allow for an accessible learning style. In a blended course, students may view lectures, access readings, ask questions and complete assignments online, so time in the classroom can focus more on discussion and activities. It creates opportunities to study a wide range of subjects and gain qualifications while learning flexibly, whenever and wherever suits you.
Blended learning is the integration of digital tools, techniques and materials with the physical classroom. In a blended course, students may view lectures, access readings, ask questions, and complete assignments online in virtual learning environments (VLE) like Moodle and through online classrooms such as Zoom, freeing up in-person class periods for discussions, activities and traditional lectures. Other terms, such as mixed, hybrid, or integrative learning, all describe the same method of teaching.
Why study blended courses?
Becoming certified in any professional area can enhance your job prospects. Online learning with user-friendly digital technology can mean pursuing your passion for a subject area or acquiring valuable qualifications which can give your career a welcome boost or offer an exciting change of direction.
Blended courses combine the freedom of e-learning with the opportunity to personally interact with lecturers and fellow students. For example, the lecturer, or facilitator, may assign an online video for students to watch, then spend the class discussing the content, demonstrating different methods and allowing students to practice techniques with immediate, instructive feedback. Blended courses offer numerous other benefits, including:
- Flexibility: Busy, geographically dispersed and mature students have more control over their schedules, avoiding the hassle of a daily commute
- Independence: Students often develop independence and motivation by working in their own time at their own pace
- Diversification: Students have access to a rich array of learning tools and styles they may not encounter in the traditional classroom
- Support: Students experience the personal engagement and support of interacting with their lecturers and classmates while benefiting from the flexibility of online delivery
How does blended learning work?
Our online and blended courses employ flipped and online classroom techniques, high-end video lectures, online activities and state of the art digital technology, to provide students with a quality learning experience. We engage with students from their initial enquiry and induction to online mentoring, regular face-to-face sessions and round the clock support from our dedicated eLearning team.
While different courses will vary, blended courses are generally made up of three elements:
- Weekly video lectures, tasks and quizzes, completed in your own time, wherever you are.
- Monthly live webinars, which you can join from anywhere with an internet connection.
- Occasional on-campus classes, generally held one Saturday of every month.
What is the virtual classroom?
Blended teaching occurs through online Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Moodle, Canvas or Blackboard. These digital platforms mimic the physical classroom, offering regularly updated content, and allowing learners to interact with their lecturer and fellow students through webinars, online group activities and discussion forums. Online activities may take place synchronously, with every student logged in and cooperating in real-time, or asynchronously with students participating at their convenience following a flexible timeline. Content in blended programmes is fully comparable to material offered in traditional courses; only the delivery method is different.
What can I expect in a blended course?
Blended programmes begin with a live induction day, where learners get the opportunity to meet the lecturing team and programme director. Learning Technologists from the Digital Learning Department demonstrate the use of our Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and how to get set up for an online Zoom classroom. Students are introduced to their VLE module and programme information pages, where support presentations and guides to resources are made easily available. The Moodle pages are personalised with a welcome message, lecturer profile and regular use of the online forums.
Online lectures are created by our highly trained academic staff, using Camtasia 9 software in conjunction with quality PowerPoint presentations in our eLearning labs. The communication is enhanced by the creative use of animations and visual imagery, with the lecturer appearing in vision, using “picture in picture” technology. The technical standards are monitored and maintained through a quality control loop between the Learning Technologists, IT support staff and the lecturing team. Online activities are referred to in the lectures and Moodle announcements and feature in the module handbooks so that students can anticipate and plan for this engagement. The activities range from the creation of an online module glossary to posting blogs and/or reflective journals and collaborative, multi-media projects. Interactive quizzes and polls are a regular feature and the weekly discussion forum is very active. Innovations in our in-house Moodle design and use of the high-end Ubicast lecturer capture system enhance the user experience.
Regular online classroom webinars (using Zoom conferencing software) are another mainstay of our blended programme, where students are afforded a one-hour live e-tutorial with their peers and module lecturer; document sharing and whiteboard facility and use of “break-out” rooms provide an essential opportunity for Q&A, using webcams and headsets to enhance the experience. These sessions are always facilitated by a Learning Technologist. Recordings are made available on Moodle for playback purposes. Learning analytics are deployed to track engagement and results and support the student experience resulting in improved retention and student success. In recent years our blended offerings have won several awards in this competitive sector.
- Bronze Medal Winner, eLearning, at the Accenture Digital Media Awards 2016
- Finalist in Best Online Learning Experience category – LL.B Blended programme : The Education Awards 2018
- Winner in Best Online Learning Experience category – Business Blended programme : The Education Awards 2019
- Finalist in Best Use of Educational Technology/ICT Initiative of the year category : The Education Awards 2020
Blended courses at Griffith College
At Griffith College, students attend blended learning tutorials in online webinars such as the Zoom classroom and then meet for monthly in-person workshops on campus. Blended learning students also have access to all of the facilities, resources and extracurricular activities offered to full- and part-time Griffith students.