Posted in Blended Learning Practice MOOC

Theories Supporting Blended Learning (Blended Learning Practice MOOC 1.2)

In the second topic of the Blended Learning Practice MOOC, we are learning about theories and models that support blended learning planning and design.

In their Guide to Blended Learning, Dr. Marti Cleveland-Innes and Dan Wilton chose to focus on two models/frameworks:

  1. Complex Adaptive Blended Learning System (CABLS)
  2. Community of Inquiry (CoI)

Complex Adaptive Blended Learning System (CABLS)

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This framework, developed specifically for blended learning, has six key elements that are all in relationship with one another. The learner is at the center of the model and the other five elements surround the learner:

  1. Learner – changing from passive to active
  2. Teacher – acting as facilitator, mentor, advisor, moderator
  3. Technology – part of the learning, includes all elements working together
  4. Content – subject matter and material elements, potential for deep learning
  5. Learning Support – scaffolding, skills, tech, troubleshooting, access, communication
  6. Institution – the tech infrastructure

The technologies we select create new roles for both the learner and the teacher, while also changing the way we work with the content and the learning supports we may require. The CABLS framework is a very dynamic and interactive model.

Dr. Cleveland-Innes

Community of Inquiry Framework

Originally developed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000), this framework has grown to become one of the most useful in blended learning. Its roots draw from educational thinkers such as Dewey (1938) and Vygotsky (1997).

Focus: Create deep and meaningful learning and higher-order thinking skills through inquiry-based teaching and learning.

The framework describes learning as the convergence of three “presences” – cognitive presence, teaching presence, and social presence – all of which, again, interact with each other to set an appropriate climate and regulate learning as well as supporting discourse between learners and teachers.

Dr. Cleveland-Innes

Emotional presence has also been suggested as an addition to the framework (expressions, feelings).

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Dr. Cleveland-Innes continues to state that “under the Community of Inquiry framework, effective blended learning means creating opportunities for meaningful engagement rather than direct instruction. We create the conditions and develop activities to invite learners to construct their own knowledge structures and identify relationships between concepts.”

The authors state that inquiry-based teaching makes learning process clear to the learners (from Schwab, 1996). Moving learners through active inquiry processes involves:

  1. Using questions, problems and material to invite learners to identify relationships between concepts or variables
  2. Using questions or problems with learners discovering the paths to answers themselves
  3. Learners identifying questions, problems, methods, answers themselves while teacher guides and facilitates

In keeping with the original three presences of the CoI framework (social presence, cognitive presence and teaching presence), blended learning using the CoI framework creates opportunities for self-reflection, active cognitive processing, interaction and peer-teaching. In addition, expert guidance from teachers at the right time encourages engagement and shared application activities, highlighting the importance of creating communities of inquiry in the classroom — whether face-to-face, online or blended.

Guide to Blended Learning, p. 13

Blended Learning Configuations

Offered by O’Connell (2016), these seven sample configurations pull from higher education:

  1. Blended F2F class – replacing some classroom time with online activities
  2. Blended online class – mostly online, some required in-person activities
  3. Flipped classroom – students participate at home then come prepared to discuss
  4. Rotation model – modality changes often such as a lab rotation
  5. Self-blend model – learners choose which courses they want F2F and online
  6. Blended MOOC – participating in a MOOC then coming together to discuss
  7. Flexible-mode courses – attending online, in-person, or either at any time

Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) Model

This model describes the impacts that we, as educators, make on learning when we choose to include technology-based activities in our classrooms and online. Often called technology-enabled learning. Popular in K-12 but also in higher ed.

  • Substitution – tech is used in the same way that no tech can be used
  • Augmentation – tech enhances learning in a way not possible with no tech
  • Modification – tech options change the function of the lesson
  • Redefinition – tech leads to a brand new activity not possible before

Reflecting on Blended Learning Theories and Frameworks

I have witnessed some great examples of these theories and frameworks from my colleagues at Cambrian College, including Jess O’Reilly, who often structures the design of her online courses by way of the Community of Inquiry Framework. Connecting how she decides the design her courses to the CoI Framework she includes headings with action verbs in them such as “Read”, “Watch”, “Do”, and “Discuss”, for example. This can effectively touch on the cognitive, teaching, and social presence in online courses.

I also often hear my colleagues talking about how blended learning is becoming the norm and that is what the author’s state in Chapter 2 of the Guidebook. Recently, our college moved to have Moodle pages set up with minimum presence requirements for every course. This led to a lot of our faculty having to learn how to post content on the LMS. Many of our faculty, however, were already using the LMS and, especially those teaching online, had fully developed courses already. Therefore the challenge for myself as an Instructional Designer, is meeting our faculty where they are at currently. Whether they teach with no tech or low tech, or are more well-versed than anyone else in the tech that they use, I strive to help them with their needs while trying not to overwhelm them with choices and steep learning curves.

One of my favourite things about my role is that I can be that liaison between planning, content, and delivery when it comes to trying new things in teaching and learning. By asking a series of questions about a faculty member’s current comfort level and what their goals are for their classroom, we can often come to a meaningful conclusion about what may work best for them.

My colleague Jeff Tranchemontagne, often says “I get asked all the time: what’s the best technology to use? My response is: the one you are going to use.”

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