In this section practical advice is provided to address some common blended learning challenges
Be mindful of common pitfalls in designing a blended learning module:
- Replicating face-to-face activities online – Designing a blended module goes beyond simply moving existing face-to-face activities online. It is important to consider which environment will work best for each activity. Online activities often have to be structured differently from face-to-face activities.
- Designing a course with an unmanageable workload – Merely adding online activities to existing face-to-face activities in an attempt to design a blended module can easily lead to too much work for students (low-impact blend). To avoid this, only add one or two activities and carefully monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of these activities so that necessary changes can be made in the following year, if required.
- Ineffective use of technology – Using technology for the sake of using technology without a continuous focus on learning outcomes can hinder students’ progress in the attainment of learning goals. When introducing technology into the delivery of your module, ensure that the activities students are required to complete are aligned with the outcomes of the module and that face-to-face and online components are designed to create an integrated learning experience.
- Misfit modes – some face-to-face activities may not be suitable in an online environment. Effective redesign requires a rethinking of the entire instructional approach. When replacing face-to-face activities with online activities (medium-impact / high-impact blend), Set some time aside to think carefully about how the activity should be structured to ensure that it will work in an online environment.
- Not preparing students for online activities – assume from the outset that students may not be familiar with the technology that you plan to use in your module. A part of your planning should include how you will ensure that your students know how to use the technology tools in the module. Consider uploading relevant resources and/or how-to documents/ videos to your LMS course for easy reference. Student support in the use of technology in learning and teaching is a crucial success factor.
- Not considering students’ lack of access to data and/ or personal mobile devices – students’ engagement with the online activities and resources in your module is largely dependent on their access to data and devices. It is best to assume that the majority of your students do not have access to reliable internet off-campus. It is therefore advised that the online activities in your module are structured in such a way that they will allow students enough time to complete them when they are on campus. Additionally, every effort should be made to ensure that you minimise the size of the resources and content that you upload to LMS course (see the box below for some tips for reducing the size of electronic files).