The Emergence of a Blended Online Learning Environment
This paper is based on an ongoing research program examining the implementation of instructional design and technology in university teaching as well as in faculty migration from a distance education design model to an online learning design model. The purpose of this paper is to substantiate an emerging online learning trend termed blended online learning, based on a synthesis of existing research and new findings from a three-year, multi-case study. Blended online learning, as defined here, was borne out of an intensive, iterative cycle of rapid prototyping-based design research and is seen as a combination of both blended learning and online learning, i.e. the simultaneous and complimentary integration and implementation of an asynchronous-mode learning environment (i.e. a learning management system, or LMS) and a synchronous desktop conferencing environment (i.e. a virtual classroom). Previous research by the author defined the context, parameters and methodology of this study and identified specific design problems encountered by faculty when designing and developing courses for off-campus outreach. This paper takes a step back and observes how distance education as a field is losing impetus as online learning is gaining momentum.
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