Book by D. Randy Garrison & Norman D. Vaughan
Review by Jeremy J. Hernandez
Lecturer and Diversity Faculty Fellow
Higher Education Program
Morgridge College of Education
University of Denver

Faculty members who attempt to incorporate technology into a class often find the task difficult and/or the outcomes disappointing.  In Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines, Garrison and Vaughan make the argument that “[while] technology can expand possibilities through the support of various forms of communication…it is the design of experiences and how students are engaged that directly affect the quality of the learning experience.” (p. 87).  The focus of this book is how to successfully incorporate a blended learning approach in a classroom and/or curriculum while balancing competing needs.

Garrison and Vaughan argue that the classic lecture approach to instruction in many classrooms is not sufficient to meet the learning needs of today’s college students.  At the same time, simply incorporating technology to improve student learning is also insufficient.  They contend that a blended learning approach is a solution to meeting the needs of today’s learners as it combines the best aspects of face-to-face and online learning while negating the weaknesses of both (p. 145).  They also emphasize the point that blended learning is a unique approach to teaching and “…is not simply an add-on to the dominant approach” (p. x).

Advisors may find that the real strength of this book lies in the first four chapters where Garrison and Vaughan systematically explain the various components that make up the blended learning concept, much of which focuses on student learning needs.  Although experienced readers may sense the theoretical influence of academics such as John Dewey and Paulo Friere in the arguments made about student learning, those new to the field will find this section to be very enlightening as the authors do an excellent job of building a framework around the concept of blended learning.  

Readers who are more practice than theory-oriented may find Part Two of particular interest as the authors make recommendations for practice and provide guidance for developing a blended learning course and/or curriculum.  Specific examples of courses from different fields and class sizes are also provided.  Although I believe the book makes the mistake of dating itself by listing specific software programs in some instances (these software programs could easily become obsolete), the use of case examples is still a valuable tool for seeing blended learning course development in action.

While this book is geared primarily toward faculty and course developers, advisors may also benefit from reading it, especially if they are new to the field.  The way in which technology is incorporated into a class can have a major impact on teaching, learning, and ultimately student success. 

Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines (2007). Book by D. Randy Garrison & Norman D. Vaughan. Review by Jeremy J. Hernandez. Wiley Periodicals (Jossey-Bass) 272 pp., $38.00, (hardback), ISBN # 978-0-7879-8770-1
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