Using Learning Activities to Optimize Blended Learning

Using Learning Activities to Optimize Blended Learning
Summary: Blended courses come with their own benefits and challenges. In this article, you will find invaluable tips and strategies on how to map the class activities with the online materials to achieve the best possible educational experience for your learners.

How To Optimize Blended Learning Through Learning Activities

The importance of class activities lies in their effectiveness in achieving learning outcomes, creating a more collaborative environment, and enhancing students’ learning in a more practical manner. To achieve these, students will benefit most if the online content which they go through in advance is clearly mapped with the activities in face-to-face sessions.

The online content provides self-directed learning, meaning students can go through the content on their own. Information is acquired by covering the modules or doing the activities and quizzes. When students come to class, it is best that they apply the knowledge acquired in order to experience effective learning.

Below are some tips to conduct face-to-face sessions for optimizing a blended learning course:

  • Do inform the students in advance for any class preparation. It is highly advised that you include this approach in the First Announcement/orientation to set the expectations from the beginning.
  • At times, as a warm-up to the activity in class, refresh their memories on certain concept/topic from the online content and then proceed with the class activities. Do state their objectives so students will be more focused and motivated to do them.
  • You need to be totally familiar with the online content in order to ensure the class activities are complementing them. It’s important that the activities enhance collaborative learning, critical thinking, and authentic learning.
  • You can also use the Additional Readings (if your course contains that) in the online content and ask the students to discuss their understanding. They can also prepare a summary and share their views when you meet in class.
  • Create the activities using the instructional strategies that best suit your students.

Here are some recommended blended learningstrategies, which you can apply, depending on your course:

  1. Reflection
    Reflection optimizes metacognition. Encouraging learners to reflect on their learning is an activity which promotes effective learning. This can be done in a period of time by assigning the students to create a journal or portfolio. Further, reflection activities can be used in one session of class by encouraging the students to share their understanding of the content, discuss with their peers and then write a short paragraph which summarizes their learning. They can also do their reflection summary using graphic organizers/presentations which sum up their learning of the previously covered online materials. In the end, you can ask them to share their thoughts with the class.
  2. Case Study
    Share a case study and ask them to discuss their opinions in pairs or groups, then share with the class as a presentation which is visually presented. You can ask them to share their opinions by pasting cards on the wall and presenting them to their peers. You can also ask them to design a model of something depending on your case study. If they need some tools, you should have them ready for the students to use.
  3. Story Mapping
    Ask the students to prepare a visual depiction of a story related to the concepts covered online. They should work in groups to create the setting, characters and ending that best relates to real life situations.
  4. Compare and Contrast
    Based on the concepts presented online, you can create tasks for the students to compare and contrast those concepts in class with their peers. Using graphic organizers to illustrate can be more engaging.
  5. Concept Map/ Mind Map
    Depending on what the content highlights, you can ask the students to create a *concept or *mind map in class and then share it with the rest. In case, you have a big class, and you don’t have enough time to share all their maps, you can ask them to upload the rest on your LMS (Learning Management System).

    1. A concept map is a diagram that shows the relationship between the information gathered.
    2. A mind map is a strategy to help structure their thinking by organizing key words.
  6. Peer Evaluation
    Students obtain a sense of ownership towards their learning when they play the role of the instructor as an evaluator. Research shows peer evaluation allows the students to learn from each other’s successes and weaknesses. To make it work well, it is important that you provide clear rules and guidelines. You can also provide a checklist which makes it easier for them to evaluate each other’s works. You can ask the individual students to assess each other or get them into groups to evaluate one’s work.
  7. Role-play or Interview
    Role-plays provide an opportunity to the students to simulate real life in their learning. You can task the students to act out their role-plays or interviews after practicing them with their peers. Filming and recording them, then uploading them on your LMS gives them a sense of ownership to their efforts. These can be used to be shown as examples for your future courses as well.
  8. Game
    You can play basic games and relate them to the content. Games are rejuvenating and fun for the learners, while they can have a significant impact on their learning.
  9. Problem Solving
    Defining a problem and asking the students to solve it within a specific period of time can be an impactful activity in class. You can either pose the problems prior to the face-to-face session or introduce them in class abruptly depending on their level of difficulty.
  10. Debates
    By pulling out relevant sections of the online content in class and throwing them for open or closed discussion, learners will have a chance to share their ideas with each other.