Insights from the Field: The Future of Blended Learning

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Jennifer Rafferty

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The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators, and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended, and digital learning. This week, Dr. Baiyun Chen, OLC Institute faculty for the Blended Learning Mastery Series: Research into Practice, joins us to discuss the future  of blended learning in higher education, as well as a variety of other topics.

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OLC: How do you define innovation?

Innovation is a change, a new idea, and a new perspective. I am very fortunate to be able to work with early adopters of new technologies and pedagogies on innovative projects at my institution.

OLC: Tell us about your current research and projects at UCF.

My current research interests mainly focus on online and blended teaching strategies, adaptive learning, mobile pedagogy, and STEM education. I am also involved in projects related to open educational resources, social media, eTextbooks, and faculty teaching readiness assessment.

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC and which Institute course(s) do you teach for OLC?

OLC is one of the most respected professional organizations in the field. I routinely refer to OLC’s annual report on online learning and online/blended learning scorecards as benchmarks at work and have attended the OLC annual conference since 2008. It is my honor to have designed and developed the Blended Learning Mastery Series: Research into Practice during my professional leave in 2016. I am looking forward to teaching this course in 2017.

OLC: Where is blended learning headed in the next 2-3 years? What should we expect to see in the higher education environment?

Blended learning will be an integral part of higher education. The design of blended learning curriculum will be more diversified and personalized with the integration of creative in-class active learning strategies and innovative educational technologies, such as adaptive learning, virtual reality, mobile technologies, and so on.

OLC: What are the biggest challenges institutions face with implementing blended learning today? What solutions do you propose?
Quality assurance is the biggest challenge with implementing blended learning in the higher education environment today. I would propose institutions to adopt evidence-based standards for course evaluations. For instance, the OLC Quality Scorecard for Blended Learning Programs provides benchmarks and quality standards to help faculty, administrators and instructional designers evaluate their blended learning programs.

OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the course you teach?

The Blended Learning Mastery Series was developed for experienced practitioners, administrators, and researchers with at least one year of blended teaching experience, or completion of the BlendKit course. The course was designed based on the Quality Scorecard for Blended Learning as a framework. The overall course goal is to promote a deeper understanding of blended learning research and practice among teaching faculty members, instructional designers, and institutional executives through a discussion and critique of recent literature on blended learning.

OLC: What do you believe are the top 3 ways in which professionals in our field can stay current and move ahead?

Collaboration, collaboration, and collaboration! I attend conferences, participate in webinars, and read research papers, but I learn the best when I collaborate with colleagues. It’s amazing how my collaborators can teach me and broaden my horizon. Please make connections and share ideas at conferences and in the Blended Learning Mastery Series course. I hope that we can all grow our network of contacts within this field.

OLC: What was the last book, journal or article you read that relates to the field?

Going back to the classics, I just reviewed Benjamin Bloom’s (1984) “The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring.” His principle of mastery learning can definitely be applied to today’s new educational technologies, such as adaptive learning.

OLC: How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/baiyun/
I look forward to meeting you in the Blended Learning Mastery Series course and collaborating with you in the future!

About Dr. Baiyun Chen

Dr. Baiyun Chen has been designing, developing, and researching online and blended learning environments since 2003. As the Team Lead of Personalized Adaptive Learning at the Center for Distributed Learning of the University of Central Florida, she leads the overall functioning of the personalized adaptive learning (PAL) function of the Instructional Design Team. As an instructional designer, she has worked very closely with instructors from various disciplines to integrate best practices and innovative technologies in online and blended courses. In 2016 and 2017, she co-facilitated BlendKit, a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on Becoming a Blended Learning Designer. Her current research interests mainly focus on adaptive learning, online and blended teaching strategies, faculty professional development, mobile pedagogy, and STEM education. She published 17 peer-reviewed journal articles and 2 book chapters and delivered more than 50 presentations at international and local conferences and events. She is the Co-Managing Editor of the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository, and also served as a peer reviewer for the National Science Foundation, a number of academic journals (Computers in Human Behaviors, The Internet & Higher Education, etc.) and professional organizations (AECT, EDUCAUSE & OLC).

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