No ideal model of blended learning exists. It is the responsibility of the educational provider to create a model that is appropriate for the program and the students. OREA Real Estate College is on track with creating the right mix for its blended learning model currently being developed. In fact, the College is at the top of the education spectrum, according to two professors at the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) at the University of Waterloo.
Recently, four staff members met with the CTE director and a faculty liaison member. The mission of CTE is to foster teaching and learning of the highest quality at Waterloo. One way CTE accomplishes this is through the Teaching Excellence Academy (TEA), a four-day program that helps professors re-design their courses. This re-design includes blended learning.
The two professors liked the College’s approach to blended learning, and commended the College for this initiative since it is a first in real estate education. CTE can only advise professors on how to re-design their course. In fact, universities and many community colleges are not structured to deliver a focused program with defined objectives in a consistent learning environment. OREA Real Estate College is. The College’s operating education culture will facilitate the deployment of blended learning.
What is blended learning?
Just as there is no ideal model for blended learning, there is also no definitive definition. It is the educational provider that must decide. A (somewhat) pedantic definition follows (Bonk & Graham, 2006):
• Blended learning combines instructional modalities
• Blended learning combines instructional methods
• Blended learning combines online and face-to-face instruction
The College’s vision of blended learning amalgamates computer-mediated communication (i.e., technology), case-based instruction, and flipped learning concepts, delivered in both virtual and actual learning spaces. While the precise mix among the three components is still being determined, the key to the mix will be case-based, or case study, instruction. This active and collaborative learning technique will stimulate students’ critical thinking and generate discussions. The computer-mediated communication component simply means students will have access to a variety course materials. The flipped learning concept simply means students’ class time will focus on active learning through analysis and discussion of the case studies.
As the CTE professors noted, the College’s blended learning initiative is “well in hand.”
Bonk, C.J. and Graham, C.R. (2006). The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, California: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.