What is blended e-Learning
The term blended learning is used to describe
a solution that combines several different delivery methods. These can
be a mix of various even-based activities such as face to face classrooms,
live e-learning and software sharing, and self-paced learning.
teaching methodology has been developed through many stages. We can categorise
these stages in 3 distinct forms: in-campus, distance learning and virtual
The oldest method of teaching that is
universally adopted all over the world is to offer lectures face-to-face
in classrooms or theatres. Of course workshops are also carried out in
laboratories and classrooms as well. The problem of this method was felt
in the last decades of the 20th century. The demand for higher
education increased sharply but the traditional universities could not
catch up with the same paste.
In order to solve this problem, the distance
learning methodology was introduced and open universities were formed
based on this idea. The main objective was to encourage students to follow
the course by using self-paced material usually in written format and
in some cases, audio/video materials up to 5% of the total content. Although
this method proved to be cost effective and provided higher education
to those who could not attend classrooms due to their working situations
or otherwise, nevertheless, was not entirely successful in achieving quality
By introduction of world-wide-web in Internet
and spread of its network to almost any home, distance learning materials
have been transformed into web based formats. The new technique was called
e-learning and virtual universities have been created using this method
of delivery. In e-learning, self-paced courses are offered to students.
They can log into the course, read through all of materials and answer
some questions online. Then students proceed to the next lesson and so
on. Although this technique is highly successful and
has been adopted or being adopted by many universities, it is not a perfect
one. The online courses were not engaging and they were not motivating
enough students to stick with it and finish the class. The social aspect
of classrooms is missing in this method. This deficiency has been fulfilled
to some extent by introduction of live classrooms via Internet.
In this approach, the entire class does
not have to run in real time. One can blend the self-paced (asynchronous)
e-learning with the live classes (synchronous) together to make an advanced
virtual classroom. This can engage students and make them feel a part
of “class” but with some extent of freedom in self-paced study. Ways of
incorporating live e-learning experience are to have chats, discussion
threads, group work, and real-time class meetings with whiteboards and
Synchronous e-learning imitates a classroom,
which means classes take place in real-time and connect instructors and
students via streaming audio or video or through a conference room.
Asynchronous e-learning lets a student
access pre-packaged training on his own time, working at his own pace
and communicating with the instructor or other students through e-mail.
Some vendors specialize in e-learning packages that run over a company's
servers. Others use an application service provider model and handle everything
from creating a training course to storing the information. Asynchronous
simply means that the students and the instructor do not have the need
to be working at the same time for the establishment of a teaching- learning
In distance education environments, students
have an educational relationship mostly separated in time, place or both.
Typically, media are classified in print, audio, video and electronic.
Print, as in correspondence education is asynchronous; audio could be
synchronous, such as an audio conference, or asynchronous, as an audio
tape. Video could be asynchronous (a video tape) or synchronous (a videoconferencing
session). On-line learning is mostly asynchronous because the courses
and instructions are available 24/7 and the students can read and post
messages anytime. However, with the increasing use of Virtual Classroom
features for learning, some communication online occurs synchronously.
In addition, audio and video streaming could be used in both ways, as
a live or recorded learning activity.
What is Integrated Universities?
The future of e-learning lies in a more practical
concept called blended
eLearning. According to most industry experts the
delivery method of choice for some engineering and managerial courses
that involves soft-skills and IT training is still the classroom.
It is worth mentioning that Instructor-led training has been the
primary method of training for decades. But what is new is that
this approach has been supplemented by such activities as reading
books, doing research, using self-paced training material offered
on videotapes or CD-ROMs, and direct interaction with tutors for
workshops to form an integrated blended eLearning method that enjoys
from benefits of all previous worlds.
Determining the right blend of technology-delivered
and classroom-based learning is almost like perfecting a recipe,
Hearn. We, at ITU, think we have perfected a recipe for offering European standard
higher education to students in the developing countries. This approach
was first introduced by Dr SMA Shahrestani in 1987 and was adopted
by UNESCO in the same year. It was then tested partially in TEMPUS
programmes for 10 years (1990-2000) and in ICIS courses since 1990.
The result was discussed with the General Secretary of FUIW in January
2001 and consequently an agreement under “FUIW Chair Program”
was signed in July 2001.
Advantages of blended eLearning
The following figure shows the advantages of an integrated blended learning
scheme created by ITU since 1987 and developed further to include
advances of Internet to form blended eLearning:
ITU uses the classrooms of the traditional
universities, the distance learning methodology
of open universities and latest techniques
of virtual universities
Some advantages of bleded eLearning are as follows:
Studying in the comfort of his/her own country, a student can obtain a
Master Degree of western quality standard at a fraction of the cost
compared to studying abroad.
It offers considerable flexibility and time saving because students can
choose where and when to study using the teaching
Students have regular interaction with the Module Leaders via E-learning. This enables them to discuss
and clarify anything they could not understand from the teaching
Direct face to face interaction with Local Teachers who can help students
in their own language. Workshops are initially discussed with local
teachers before their submission to the Module Leaders.
Students have fast access to the Programme
Students can choose the title of their dissertation to fit in with their
interests and expertise. They can also choose the time of submitting
their dissertation after the satisfactory completion of all taught
There is a book titled “Blended
eLearning” by Dr. Larry Bielawski and David Metcalf,
Ph.D, examines the current “state of the art” and takes a broad
look at the latest instructional techniques, tools, and strategies
that will help you to more effectively realize the benefits of e-learning.
Moreover, the following are links which you might
Blended e-Learning, by Dorie Henrie
Basics, How to pick from the best of both delivery worlds, by Justin
Blended Learning Models,
by Purnima Valiathan
Blended eLearning software
developed by filenet