Adaptive Blending: Designing for Personalized Online and Purposeful, Higher-Order Face-to-Face Learning

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session Best in Track

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Adaptive and blended learning can be used together to fully leverage the strength of the online portion of classes to be personalized, mastery-based, and flexible.  Face-to-face sessions can be informed by adaptive learning analytics to focus on problem-solving, analysis, and collaborative learning best done synchronously.


Dr. Matthew Vick is a professor of science education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has directed/co-directed two grant projects at UW-W: a two-year Wisconsin Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title IIA Improving Teacher Quality Grant entitled "Integrating Science and Literacy Learning with English Proficient and English Language Learners" and a one-year UW System Outreach grant entitled "Collaboratively Implementing the Vision of the Next Generation Science Standards in the Mukwonago Area School District with Pre-service and In-service Teachers". He has published research articles and a book chapter in science education as well as practitioner-based articles. He has presented at the National Science Teachers Association, the Association for Science Teacher Education, the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, and the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers. He has served as department chair for the department of Curriculum and Instruction and interim associate dean of graduate studies.
Dr. Nicole Weber is the Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Learning at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). In this role she works closely with OLC staff and global partners to advance professional development opportunities, continuous improvement efforts, and research in support of quality digital, blended, and online learning. Before joining OLC, she served as the Director of Learning Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she led online and blended faculty development efforts, technology training for the digital learning ecosystem, and emerging learning technology exploration and evaluation, collaborating across the institution to support student learning and success. Nicole received her PhD in Urban Education specializing in Social Foundations of Education with an emphasis on designing engaging learning environments in 2012.

Extended Abstract


By the end of the session, participants will be able to

  • Define advantages and disadvantages of three domains in an adaptive, blended course: online-adaptive elements, online-non-adaptive elements, and face-to-face elements
  • Purposefully map objectives to online & adaptive, online & non-adaptive, and face-to-face portions of a course
  • Plan granular adaptive learning course maps that permit flexibility and focus on mastery
  • Design and sequence online & non-adaptive elements of a course based upon adaptive learning results
  • Design face-to-face sessions based upon the use of adaptive learning analytics dashboards to drive instruction best conducted in-person (e.g. physical lab skills, communication and teamwork skills suited to live interaction, higher order thinking skills)


Materials:  Supporting PowerPoint will be shared through the Conference website and app.


Blended learning should involve more than just a reduction in seat time.  Blended courses should purposefully leverage the advantages of online learning and face-to-face sessions for learning better than either format independently.  Adaptive learning allows for the online learning to be personalized and focused on learning in ways that allow face-to-face sessions to have greater depth, meaning, and purpose for students.  When designing an adaptive, blended course, there are three domains in which instruction will take place:  online & adaptive, online & non-adaptive, and face-to-face.  Several general guidelines are presented below, but as with any creative design endeavour, instructors and designers may find methods of moving these examples between the categories.

The online & adaptive domain best addresses student learning outcomes that have the following characteristics:

  1. Granularized content that requires mastery of skills or knowledge “chunks” (video/reading can be chunked into about 15 minutes and 3-8 good assessment questions could be constructed)
  2. Content that has some sequential/pre-requisite aspects to it (this will best leverage the adaptive system)
  3. Content requiring background knowledge from previous coursework (allowing for personalized “remediation” or coaching through presumed skills and knowledge).


The online & non-adaptive domain best addresses student learning outcomes that have the following characteristics:

  1. Co-construction of knowledge
  2. Sharing or critiquing of personal experience related to the content
  3. Virtual simulations or laboratories

The face-to-face domain best addresses student learning outcomes in a course that have the following characteristics:

  1. Physical, tactile, or other kinesthetic skills (such as science labs or patient skills for health sciences)
  2. Whole group simulations/case studies (such as as micro-teaching followed by reflection in education courses)
  3. Discussions of sensitive topics 

Adaptive learning system analytics provide data on mastery, time spent in activities, areas of content with repeated practice, and questions with high levels of incorrect responses.  This data can be used to best inform instructor interactions with students both in the online & non-adaptive and face-to-face domains.  Instructional Designers and instructors can work together to plan blended courses that leverage the maximum benefit from each domain to result in a learning experience that is greater than either a fully online or a fully face-to-face class would provide.

Session Plan (45 minutes)

  1. Overview of common features of adaptive learning systems (5 minutes)
  2. Discussion of advantages and disadvantages of three domains in an adaptive blended course: online & adaptive elements, online & non-adaptive elements, and face-to-face elements (10 minutes)
  3. Example of Learning Analytics Dashboard in an Adaptive System (5 minutes)
  4. Case Study: Example of a Blended, Adaptive Course in science education (10 minutes)
  5. “Table Discussions”/Scenarios (STEM course, humanities course, professional course) (10 minutes)
  6. Questions and Answers (5 minutes)


Participant Engagement 

Polleverywhere will be used to solicit audience feedback and ideas.  The table discussions will engage participants in planning how they would approach designing an adaptive, blended course in one of three broad areas (STEM, humanities, or professional courses).