posted on September 06, 2013 10:04
Book by Francine S. Glazer
Review by Erin Justyna
Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement
Texas Tech University
Lubbock TX 79409
Amidst calls among policy makers and the general public for higher education to be more affordable and more effective at preparing a work force, institutions are undergoing transformation. The use of online components is on the rise and there is a distinct need for instructors to reconsider their curriculum and pedagogical approach. Professors quickly find that adding an online component to a course is not as simple as moving their current lecture content into the World Wide Web. Glazer’s book discusses the steps involved in redesigning a course and addresses the benefits and challenges.
Glazer defines blended learning as the full integration of face-to-face instruction with online learning experiences in a way that maximizes the strengths of both and outlines the many benefits to a blended learning approach. Blended learning demands active learning, supports numerous pedagogical approaches, creates time, gives all students a voice, maximizes the value of face-to-face time, helps students organize their knowledge, and encourages self-directed learning. While Glazer’s book is clearly biased toward the blended learning model, it does address the challenges of implementing a blended learning format, among them the significant amount of front-loaded work that must be done during the redesign.
Blended Learning provides specific examples of lessons learned from instructors who have attempted a blended learning course, and highlights best practices from professors who have undertaken a course redesign from traditional or fully online to a blended format. The book does a good job of offering baby steps for attempting a move to the blended learning approach and gives warning of potential pitfalls. The book also includes example syllabi, lesson plans, and assessments.
While Blended Learning is written for an audience of higher education instructors, advisors can benefit from the lessons within. Advisors reading the book should conceptualize their campus and advising practices and consider how their approach can embrace a blended learning model. They might contemplate what components of advising are more effective when offered in a face-to-face setting and what might be most effective online. One of the most important lessons in Blended Learning is the importance of timing, and advisors might also consider what online components could be required before the face-to-face meeting and which could be expected from students after.
Many advisors already use a blended approach, requiring students to fill out an online form or attend an information session before they can schedule a face-to-face meeting with their assigned advisor or using technology to send automated follow ups to students after the meeting has occurred. A major concern addressed in Glazer’s book is students’ degree of access to the technology required for a blended learning course. Advisors too must be aware of student access and technological understanding when designing advising services/requirements with online components. More and more students have twenty-four hour access to smart phones, tablets, and wireless Internet, but we would be remiss to assume that all students do.
I would recommend this book to advisors. It is a very short, easy read and has some important lessons for working with students in our current political and technological climate. Blended Learning would be a particularly smart read for those advisors who also act as instructors or trainers. Advisors using a blended approach will increase their overall interactions with students and improve learning outcomes.
Blended learning: Across the disciplines, across the academy. (2012). Book by Francine S. Glazer (Ed.). Review by Erin Justyna. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 138 pp., $24.95 (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-57922-324-3