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Quality blended learning design involves thoughtful, online learning combined with in person experiences.

What do we mean by ‘blended learning?’

The University will adopt the definition coined by Garrison & Kanuka (2004, p. 96). The term ‘thoughtful’ is elaborated by the authors as reflecting the purposeful combination of the respective strengths of synchronous, asynchronous, face-to-face and online learning activities.

“The thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences.” 1

Blended pedagogy is associated with models of delivery that require students to engage with timetabled onsite learning activities across the academic year and digital learning activities between these times.

Blended learning aligns well with Taumata Teitei, where the definition of ‘blend’ is primarily campus-based, interwoven with technology’s increased flexibility and richness. This approach plays to our strength; the place-based experience and use of digital technologies offer to support greater student engagement. It affords maximum flexibility in learning design, and the delivery of learning and teaching, with the blend of online learning and face-to-face learning enhancing each other. The resulting ‘blend’ will vary from programme to programme and course to course. However, it will predicate on research-informed designs and practices used to promote the optimum use of technology as an enhancement in context.

TEL in practice – blend

Small steps

There are some factors that teachers might consider when adopting a blended learning approach:

Build a rapport

Engage students in class, e.g., a welcome video message in Canvas, weekly to-do lists, provide lecture notes before class and lecture recordings after class.


Build digital skills for life

Integrate technology in learning that is relevant to work life and enable students to review and update their digital literacy.


Encourage collaborative learning

Through the use of in-class activities and assessments.2

Set the pace

Use Canvas Learning Management System in a timely and consistent way.


Co-design activities and assessments with students

Provide an evaluation mechanism for students to reflect on their learning, making connections to real digital lives and work.


Know your students and their level of digital skills

Provide instructions and opportunities for familiarity and practise with a technology before it really matters, i.e., for an assessment task.

In depth

It is useful for teachers to understand how technology enables them to enact pedagogical content knowledge, 3 which is knowledge about how best to teach particular content, that is different to knowledge about the content; therefore, combining ‘pedagogy’ (theories and practices of learning and teaching) and ‘content’ (curriculum, learning objectives and outcomes). Realise too that learning and teaching can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways, so it helps to understand the pedagogical affordances and constraints of a range of tools, as they relate to disciplinarily and developmentally-appropriate pedagogical designs and strategies.4

At the University of Auckland, technologies are being adopted in various ways to meet the demands of large classes5 and to address the needs of digital-savvy students.6

A bit more

In evaluating the right technologies, Bates provides a framework for making effective decisions about the choice and use of media for teaching and learning.7

Roles that teachers play relate to teaching presence in class. Teachers take an active role in advocating, facilitating, sense-making, organising and maintaining a student’s learning environment.8

One example of blended learning is the flipped classroom model. Moffett provides practical tips for applying flipped classroom method which leads to an increase in teacher-student interaction.9

Additional resources

Page updated 01/12/2023 (minor edit)

  1. Garrison, D. Randy, and Heather Kanuka​. “Blended learning: Uncovering its Transformative Potential in Higher Education.” Internet and Higher Education 7, no. 2 (2004): 95-105.
  2. Barkley, Elizabeth F., K. Patricia Cross, and Claire H. Major. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.
  3. Shulman, Lee S. “Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching.” Educational Researcher 15, no. 2 (1986): 4-14.
  4. Koehler, Matthew, and Punya Mishra. “What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)?” Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education 9, no. 1 (2009): 60-70.
  5. Eberhard, Andrew, Khushbu Tilvawala, Gabrielle Peko, and David Sundaram. “Engaging a Class of 2200 Digital Natives: A Blended Approach.” In 2014 IEEE Eighth International Conference on Research Challenges in Information Science (RCIS), 1-7. IEEE, 2014. DOI: 10.1109/RCIS.2014.6861061
  6. Datt, Ashwini, and Trudi Aspden. “Motivating learning and skills development in netizens.” In Motivation, Leadership and Curriculum Design, 63-74. Springer, Singapore, 2015.
  7. Bates, Anthony W. Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning. Vancouver: BCcampus, 2015.
  8. Richardson, Jennifer C., Adrie A. Koehler, Erin D. Besser, Secil Caskurlu, JiEun Lim, and Chad M. Mueller. “Conceptualizing and Investigating Instructor Presence in Online Learning Environments.” The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 16, no. 3 (2015).
  9. Moffett, Jennifer. “Twelve Tips for “Flipping” the Classroom.” Medical Teacher 37, no. 4 (2015): 331-336.
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