Using Blended Principles to Bridge the Gap between Online and On-Campus Courses

Using Blended Principles to Bridge the Gap between Online and On-Campus Courses

Panagiota Gounari (University of Massachusetts–Boston, USA) and Apostolos Koutropoulos (University of Massachusetts–Boston, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8246-7.ch065
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Blended learning, and its relative HyFlex (Hybrid Flexible), are garnering up a lot of attention these days from both academics and administrators on college campuses. Organizations like the Sloan Consortium offer training in Blended Course Design; free Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) such as BlendKit provide ways for educators to start thinking about and begin implementation of blended course design. Despite the pedagogical benefits, not all institutions are equipped to handle blended courses, instructors are not ready to jump on the blended bandwagon if there is no institutional support, and on-campus students are not very comfortable with it yet. One proposed way to ease the transition into blended learning is to combine two sections of the same course, one running online, and one running on-campus. In this chapter, the authors describe a pedagogical trial in which they adopted this proposal as a way, based on HyFlex principles, to get students thinking about the benefits of blending two sections, thus bringing in some benefits of blended learning, while retaining the “safety net” that some students feel they need when they sign up for on-campus courses.
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In the fall semester of 2011 a unique opportunity for pedagogical experimentation and innovation was presented to us in the department of Applied Linguistics at our Institution. One of our faculty members was teaching two sections of the same course (Foundations of Bilingual Education) online and on campus. While the mere fact of teaching two sections of the same course isn’t always enough for pedagogical innovation, the fact that these two sections of the course were designed and implemented for different modalities and serve different populations of students, gave us reason to pause and ponder the pedagogical possibilities of blending these two sections. Just as there are different types of “blends,” as proposed by Singh & Reed (2001), we thought of blending together an on-campus course with an online section of the same course to see if there is merit in bringing together two different groups of learners to learn together and what might be some of the benefits and pedagogical lessons.

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