By David J. Rosen, Ed.D.
Blended learning is the integration of online learning with face-to-face learning. This article will discuss the first steps to getting started with blended learning as well as provide links to resources that will help you improve your use of blended learning, including a free, downloadable guide that more fully explores blended learning for adult basic skills educators and links to free, open education resources for the online component of blended learning.
To begin, you will need to consider these questions:
1. What are the teaching/learning problem(s) you are trying to solve with blended learning?
2. Why do you think blended learning will help you solve those problems?
3. Is this for some, or all, of the classes in your program?
4. What are the content areas and levels of content you need in the online learning component?
5. Do you want to obtain, or possibly purchase, a new online learning management system (LMS) or content management system (CMS), or do you plan to use an existing one?
6. Do you want the online content to be provided for you, or do you want to use a free or inexpensive shell program and find or create all your own content, or a mixture of both?
7. Do you want a feature that reports learning progress, and if so, what information would you like it to report?
It’s a good idea to list these and other questions you may want to address in a document that includes your answers and, if you plan a program-wide solution, to circulate the document to your colleagues to collect additional questions and for clarification and refinement of answers.
If you determine that you want to purchase an online LMS, and you know what content area(s) and level(s) you need, you can take a look here to find a list of some major adult basic skills education publishers that may have learning management system products of interest. If you want to find or create your own content and store it for adult learners in a free or low-cost online file storage system, you will also find lists of these storage systems and free or Open Education Resources (OER) on that page. Note that the resources on the site are periodically updated.
Blended Learning for the Adult Literacy Classroom
If you and your colleagues are ready to act to create or improve your use of blended learning, you may find this link to my free, downloadable guide Blended Learning for the Adult Education Classroom useful. The guide will serve as a step-by-step road map for choosing and efficiently implementing a blended learning model that meets your needs and budget. Whether you are a beginner in blended learning, have experimented with blended learning and want to further improve your sills, or you are a blended learning expert, you will find information and resources that will be worthwhile.
The guide gives an introduction to what blended learning is and how it can help you, your students, and your program; descriptions of how a wide range of adult basic skills programs (volunteer tutoring programs, ESL/ESOL, adult secondary education, and transition to college programs) are using blended learning; how you can use blended learning with your students; how to decide on an online learning platform that meets everyone’s needs; and more. There is also an eight-page appendix of links to useful, mostly free, resources that you may also find helpful, including:
• Technology use surveys that you can use with your students
• Computer and digital literacy skills assessments and lessons
• Free online filing tools, shell platforms, learning platforms, and website builders for creating a web presence
• Other tools and apps that are useful for adult blended learning instruction
I have recently created a new group of practitioners who are interested in learning more about blended learning. If you would like to join this group, or you have questions about blended learning, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. David J. Rosen was executive director of the Adult Literacy Resource Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, a greater Boston adult education professional development and training center, from 1986 to 2003. As an independent consultant since 2003, he has recently provided education and evaluation services to: World Education’s Education Technology Center; Massachusetts’ System for Adult Basic Education Support as the leader of a new technology coaching initiative; and Essential Education, to develop an online guide to blended learning for adult educators. He is the moderator of two U.S. Department of Education-sponsored LINCS community of practice groups: Integrating Technology and Program Management. He is co-moderator of Adult Educators Using Facebook for Education (AEFE) and of an online group focusing on competency- and proficiency-based adult education. He has also recently joined the ProLiteracy Board of Directors.