Blended learning from design to evaluation: International case studies of evidence-based practice

Concurrent Session 5
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Brief Abstract

Laumakis, Graham and Dziuban (2009) suggest “the impact of blended learning is potentially monumental – permanently changing how students interact with higher education” (p.23). This panel presentation will highlight the rationale, benefits, challenges, strategies, and “lessons learned” from five international faculty development initiatives for blended learning.

This session received high reviewer ratings and is runner up for Best-in-Strand.


Marieta Jansen van Vuuren is a Senior Academic Developer for the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at the North-West University (NWU), South Africa. In her role as academic developer for the past 7 years she has been responsible for helping faculty integrate technologies into curriculum and their teaching and learning plans as well as the development and implementation of technology innovation plans and funded projects. Before joining CTL, she lectured undergraduate students and supervised post-graduate students in the School of Education – Languages as well as in the School of Languages. Her educational background includes a Bachelor degree (1984) as well as a Professional Teaching Qualification from the Potchefstroom University OF Higher Education (NWU), an Honours degree in Languages from UNISA, a Masters degree in Languages form VISTA University and a PhD in Afrikaans – Sociolinguistics from North-West University in 2007. She has a passion for online learning, innovation and educational technologies and video integration and blended learning in higher education.
Professor Mark Brown is Ireland's first Chair in Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL). Prior to taking up this position at the start of 2014, Mark was Director of the National Centre for Teaching and Learning as well as Director of the Distance Education and Learning Futures Alliance (DELFA) at Massey University, New Zealand. In addition, Mark had responsibility for oversight of the Central Hub of Ako Aotearoa - National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. Over the last decade, Mark has played key leadership roles in the implementation of several major university-wide digital learning and teaching initiatives, including the selection and enterprise-wide deployment of Moodle, the original design and development of the Mahara e-portfolio system, a major implementation of a rich media learning platform [Mediasite], and the first New Zealand university-wide implementation of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform [Open2Study]. Mark is currently Chair of the Innovation in Teaching and Learning Steering Committee for the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) and is a member of the Executive Committee of European Distance and e-Learning Network (EDEN). In 2016, Mark was also appointed as a representative of the Irish Universities Association on the Board of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. In addition, Mark contributes as a faculty member to the US-based Online Learning Consortium's (OLC) Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) and is currently leading an intiative to establish the Empower Online Learning Leadership Academy (EOLLA) for new and emerging institutional leaders in European universities. Additionally, he works closely with Epigeum, a subsidiary of Oxford University Press, in the development of online professional development programmes for university staff and is currently Lead Advisor for a course in the area of Blended Learning. Before taking up his current posiiton, Mark was President of the New Zealand Association for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (DEANZ). He was also Treasurer and an Executive Committee member of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ascilite). ascilite is the peak professional body for Digital Learning in Australia and New Zealand. Mark is a recipient of a National Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching and remains a member of the New Zealand Academy of Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

Extended Abstract

Presentation Description and Goals

Participants who attend this panel presentation will gain insight regarding the “lessons learned” from five international faculty development initiatives for blended learning.  These insights will include:

  1. The rationale for creating a blended learning faculty development initiative
  2. Benefits of such a program for students, faculty, and administration
  3. Challenges of blended learning initiatives from a student, faculty, and administration perspective
  4. Key educational strategies that have been developed or evolved from the programs
  5. Recommendations for blended learning faculty development initiatives

The panel members for this session include:

  • Dr. Laura Zhou, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Dr Stefan Stenbom, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
  • Mr David MacDonald, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Mr. John Milne, Massey University, New Zealand
  • Dr. Aline Reali, University of Sao Carlos, Brazil
  • Dr. Mark Brown, Dublin City University, Ireland

Moderator: Dr. Norm Vaughan, Mount Royal University, Canada

Each participant who attends this panel session will have access to an editable set of Google Slides and a Google Doc.  This web-based material will contain content and resources for each of the five blended learning initiatives and participants will be encouraged to add questions, ideas, suggestions, and additional resources throughout the session.

This panel session is designed to be highly interactive. There will be opportunities for the participants to ask the panel members questions and contribute their own ideas and suggestions throughout the session.  The moderator will facilitate five rounds of discussion (e.g., rationale, benefits, challenges, educational strategies, and recommendations for blended learning initiatives). At the end of each round, audience members will be able to pose questions to the panel members and to contribute ideas to an editable Google Doc.


The idea of blending different learning experiences has been in existence since humans started thinking about teaching (Williams, 2003). The recent infusion of web-based technologies into the learning and teaching process brings this term into current consideration (Allen & Seaman, 2010; Clark, 2003).  These technologies have created new opportunities for students to interact with their peers, teachers, and content.

Blended learning is often defined as the combination of face-to-face and online learning (Sharpe et al., 2006; Williams, 2002).  Ron Bleed, the former Vice Chancellor of Information Technologies at Maricopa College, argues that this is not a sufficient definition for blended learning as it simply implies “bolting” technology onto a traditional course, using technology as an add-on to teach a difficult concept, or adding supplemental information.  He suggests that  blended learning should be viewed as an opportunity to redesign how courses are developed, scheduled, and delivered through a combination of physical and virtual instruction: “bricks and clicks” (Bleed, 2001).  Joining the best features of in-class teaching with the best features of online learning that promote active, self-directed learning opportunities with added flexibility should be the goal of this redesigned approach (Garnham & Kaleta, 2002; Littlejohn & Pegler, 2007; Norberg, Dziuban, Moskal, 2011).  Garrison and Vaughan (2008) echo this sentiment when they state that “blended learning is the organic integration of thoughtfully selected and complementary face-to-face and online approaches and technologies” (p.148).  A survey of e-learning activity by Arabasz, Boggs & Baker (2003) found that 80 percent of all higher education institutions and 93 percent of doctoral institutions offer hybrid or blended learning courses.

Most of the recent definitions for blended courses indicate that this approach to learning offers potential for improving  how we deal with content, social interaction, reflection, higher order thinking, problem solving, collaborative learning, and more authentic assessment in higher education potentially leading to a greater sense of student engagement (Graham, 2006; Mayadas & Picciano, 2007; Norberg, Dziuban, Moskal, 2011). Dziuban, Moskal and Hartmann (2013) further suggest that “blended learning has become an evolving, responsive, and dynamic process that in many respects is organic, defying all attempts at universal definition” (p.4). 

Laumakis, Graham and Dziuban (2009) suggest “the impact of blended learning is potentially monumental – permanently changing how students interact with higher education” (p.23). This panel presentation will highlight the rationale, benefits, challenges, strategies, and “lessons learned” from five international faculty development initiatives for blended learning.


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2010). Class differences: Online education in the United States, 2010,

Babson Survey Research Group, The Sloan Consortium. Available online at:

Arabasz, P., Boggs, R. & Baker, M. B. (2003). Highlights of E-Learning Support Practices.Educause Center for Applied Research Bulletin, 9.

Bleed, R. (2001). A Hybrid Campus for a New Millennium. Educause Review, 36 (1). 16-24.

Clark, D. (2003). Blend it like Beckham. Epic Group PLC.

Dziuban, C. D., Moskal, P. D., & Hartman, J. (2013). Blended learning: A dangerous idea?. Internet and Higher Education, 18(7), 15-23.

Garnham, C. & Kaleta, R. (2002). Introduction to Hybrid Courses. Teaching with Technology Today, 8 (6).

Garrison, D.R. & Vaughan, N.D. (2008). Blended Learning in Higher Education. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA .

Graham, C. R. (2006). Blended learning systems: Definitions, current trends, and future directions. In Bonk, C. & Graham, C. (Eds), The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs (pp. 3-21). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Halverson, L. R., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., Drysdale, J. S., &  Henrie, C. R. (2014). A thematic analysis of the most highly cited scholarship in the first decade of blended learning research.  Internet and Higher Education, 20, 20–34.

Laumakis, M., Graham, C., & Dziuban, C. (2009). The Sloan-C pillars and boundary objects as a framework for evaluating blended learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(1), 75-87.

Littlejohn, A., & Pegler, C. (2007). Preparing for blended e-Learning: Understanding blended and online learning (Connecting with E-learning). London, UK: Routledge.

Mayadas, F. A. & Picciano, A. G. (2007). Blended learning and localness: The means and the end. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 3-7.

Norberg, A., Dziuban, C. D., & Moskal, P. D. (2011). A time-based blended learning model. On the Horizon, 19(3), 207-216.

Sharpe, R., Benfield, G., Roberts, G., & Francis, R. (2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: A review of UK literature and practice. London: Higher Education Academy.

Vaughan, N.D., Cleveland-Innes, M. & Garrison, D.R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca: Athabasca University Press. Available online at:

Vaughan , N.D. (2007). Perspectives on Blended Learning in Higher EducationInternational Journal on E-Learning, 6(1), 81-94.

Williams, J. (2003). Blending into the Background. E-Learning Age Magazine, 1.

Williams, C. (2002).  Learning on-line:  A review of recent literature in a rapidly expanding field. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 26(3), 263-272.