Sharing Blended Learning Outcomes

Blended

As I continue to evolve as a blended learning educator, I decided to try and measure some of the effects of blended learning with my students. In a previous article, I documented how incorporating blended learning assignments into my traditional classroom raised my course passage rate. In this piece, I compare student performance along two, 10-week periods. The first was predominantly blended, or 1:1 iPad-based instruction, the second was predominately textbook-centric, or traditional paper and pencil-based instruction.

Textbooks

Armed with a proliferation of digital instructional resources, broadband, and inexpensive devices, many educators are combining online instruction with regular classroom instruction to improve students’ learning experiences. Staker and Horn (2011) classify blended learning as a formal education program where students learn, at least in part, through online delivery of content and instruction. Students have some level of control over time, place, path, and/or pace of instruction. Part or all of the instruction is delivered away from home in a supervised, brick-and-mortar location. This blending of online and face-to-face instruction is expected to be standard practice in in the future (Murphy, Snow, Mislevy, et al., 2014). The purpose of this article is to inspire conversation as to how educators can evaluate whether or not blended learning actually improves student outcomes in their classrooms. What variables should be examined? Can quasi-experimental studies be set up as action research projects without disrupting the classroom?

It was in this spirit, that I compared my blended classroom to my traditional classroom along four factors: (a) classwork completion; (b) homework completion; (c) assessment scores; and (d) course averages. Five random samples of classwork, homework, and assessments were analyzed for each 10-week period.

Table 1 (N=127) Blended Classroom Traditional Classroom
Classwork Completion Percentage 0.77 0.70
Homework Completion Percentage 0.71 0.63
Assessment Means 50.355 52.565
Course Averages 64.85 67.42

Students in this sample completed more of the blended classwork assignments. Students also completed more of the blended homework assignments. Assessment scores were similar, however, traditional instruction netted slightly higher means. Course averages were also similar, yet traditional classroom instruction had a slightly larger mean. Again, it should be noted that this was not a true empirical study. The sample size was not large enough to be generalizable. Further, I am not sure what the finding of higher engagement and participation, yet lower achievement signifies, but I will spend time reflecting on it.

Again, the purpose of this article was to provide educators switching from the traditional classroom role to a blended role with some data points for comparing their experiences. The results may not be as valid as those from a large scale study, however, as more 1:1 educators compare their student outcomes, we will learn what outcomes to expect and gather valuable context to evaluate which practices are the most effective. In order to do that, we need front line teachers to document their practices, collect data, and disseminate it. Educational journals will not publish this work, but we can share it in the blogosphere and the Twitterverse. Heck, I sure some teachers will even Snapchat this.

Twitter

In conclusion, I will say that teaching with the iPads was novel, challenging, and frustrating at times, but best of all it was fun. My students loved using them and I enjoyed experimenting with them. Students read more, wrote more, viewed more historical content, and took more field trips to historical sites (even if they were virtual trips). In short, the iPads turned my classroom into a student-centered, active learning, historical thinking adventure. The entire experience rejuvenated my teaching. I can’t wait for the next school year. I suppose that’s a significant enough outcome for me.

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4 comments

  1. It’s not clear to me from your description here *exactly* how the blended learning experience was different from the traditional learning experience. Did you put all the blended student’s assignments on line? Did the blended learning students take the assessments online? Did the students in the blended learning course have the same access to the in-class instruction– how did they access the instructor (you)? I’d be interested to know exactly how you structured it, before I hazarded any speculation on the meaning behind the differentials. Very interesting!

    • Thanks for the comment and questions, Suzanne. In my effort to keep the blog post under 500 words, I omitted those details. Simply put, the *blended* experience was using the iPads. These activities included: external reading assignments assessed by multiple-choice quizzes; assignments to view historical videos and create a timeline, notes, or written responses to the videos online; podcasts (15 min lectures and note-taking exercises);
      “flipped” mini-lectures, which allowed students to view the lectures at home, and do work related to them in class; online outlining of chapter sections (thanks evernote); flashcard sets with academic and content-specific vocabulary (quizlet.com); students’ development of a flow chart for an argument (coogle.it); students’ creation of a cartoon illustrating a historical event or concept (Edmodo whiteboard app); and discussion board posts of at least 100 words housed on (Edmodo). Assessments were varied between in class and online. Traditional assignments were straight out of the history book or photocopied readings. I taught both classes, students could ask for help in completing their tasks. Again, I am just trying to get teachers to share their outcomes. I wonder if teachers are more likely to share on the blogosphere than in teacher PD where they are subject to the immediate criticism of their co-workers?

  2. We should be doing blended learning daily…who gets a dictionary to look up a word…who writes a draft of a doc long hand and then transfers it to a word processor…why are we still teaching cursive should focus on keyboarding…we need to teach students grammar and then how to use grammar and spell check in a word processor, along with other powerful tools in in a word processor like a thesaurus, the document analyzers that tell reading level of the doc, how to footnote, cross reference…then teach the students who to format the document; share it on the cloud so that we can work on it with a partner simultaneously etc. As well as conduct research to write the doc. In the past we had to spend hours researching and note-taking to complete a project. Now it is at our finger tips. We need to help our students conduct quality Internet research.

    I love using resources like Khan Academy and mathelp.com to teach Pre-Algebra and Algebra. If students don’t get a concept right away they can review a concept in a Quicktime video as many times as they need to so they can refine their understanding of it. I currently recommend that my math students use apps like Wolfram to help with Algebra HW. For the first time this year I allowed to the students to collaborate in my Algebra 1 class on everything: classwork, HW, tests. Everything. I have yet to see a class perform so well on high school entrance exams. 6 of the 12 aced them and the lowest score of the other six was a 94.

    We need to make a move to full computer based teaching and learning. Since 1992, I have used a computer daily in my sales/ marketing/training and teaching positions. I was confounded when I began working on my credential and saw how miniscule the focus was for integrating technology into learning and the classroom. I tripped when I heard new teachers say things like we can’t get rid of books because “they have a certain smell and fell that you can never get out of a computer.” Most students are not computer savvy when it comes to learning, researching, and producing work they maybe in gaming and socializing. We need to help them become techo-savvy. Neglecting Computer Based Learning would be like choosing to have monks continue to write books longhand after Gutenberg gave us the printing press. I would rather have a text that includes an array of multimedia options and can be updated instantaneously than one that smells good. Although it is nice to read a book in hot relaxing bath, I am leery about using a tablet/iPad in the water. 😉

    • Thanks for the comment, Dwane. There is a lot of research out there on successful 1:1 computer initiatives increasing student achievement. Have you read the Castle Brief on Laptop Computing? Maybe you wrote it? Project Red’s The Technology Factor is another great research-based evaluation of classroom technology programs.


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