• Tara O'Brien

Designing a Blended-Learning Course

As part of a post-graduate course, I was given the challenge of developing a blended-learning course. I chose to target adult-learners and novice PYP teachers and designed a course to support learning about the PYP Learner Profile and Approaches to Learning.

Take a look at the vodcast below to learn more about the course.


Essential Course Information


Digital Education Theory Supporting Course Design

The proposed blended-learning course is targeted towards inexperienced PYP teachers. Thus, a digital-pedagogical learning theory developed by Picciano (2017) called “The Blending with Pedagogical Purpose Model” was adapted to meet the needs of adult learners. The adapted model (The Blending with Andragogic Purpose Model) divides learning into six component parts; (1) conceptual understanding, knowledge, skills component (2) social-emotional component, (3) dialectic collaboration and independent inquiry component, (4) authentic problem solving, (5) feedback and coaching, (6) reflection and goal setting. Much like Picciano`s (2017) model, the six components are interwoven to actively-engage and motivate learners.

Picciano (2017) recommends that instructional design includes specific strategies which support learning, including: clearly defined objectives/goals, problems to solve (independently or collaboratively), active engagement in a variety of ways, curated resources, collaboration tools, and feedback. The Blending with Andragogic Purpose Model aligns with each of these recommendations. Reigeluth (2005) also suggests that instructional design consider methods that engage learners in tasks that promote problem-based learning and self-regulated learning. Both of these strategies are supported by the Blending with Andragogic Purpose Model.

Click the link below to view a Prezi video about the educational theory supporting the course design.



Digital Learning Space

The curated learning space, was developed via Sutori and includes several objects for adult learners to engage with. These objects include slide presentations, comment features, games, readings, links to other resources, assignments, polls, videos, and an interactive video. Each of these objects aligns with the Blending with Andragogic Purpose Model and will encourage active engagement with the blended-learning course via the curated space and face-to-face collaboration time.



Admittedly, this is the first blended-learning, adult targeted, course that I have designed. I relied heavily on research and my own extensive professional experience with participating in MOOCs, Micro-credentials, and online professional development. The most engaging online courses, and blended-learning courses, I have attended included multiple modalities, multiple means of communication, and some aspect of gamification. While researching, I was unsurprised to discover that these components of online learning are engaging to most learners and support effective academic progress. Thus, I included multiple modalities via readings, videos, interactive videos, slide presentations, interactive slide presentations, games, quizes, and infographics. I designed multiple means of communication into the course as well. The Sutori learning space facilitates communication via comments and polls. Gamification was also included in the course, through interactive quizes provided each week.

All components of the online-learning space lay the groundwork for effective face-to-face collaboration time via a Workshop approach. Teachers meet on a weekly basis to share "home learning" tasks and work on collaborative documents, digital stories, and build curriculum.

Perhaps the greatest challenge encountered during the process of designing this course relates to accessing technology. There are a wealth of wonderful applications, software, and websites that facilitate technology-enhanced learning. However, they are often expensive and the "free versions" are often very limited. I used "trial" subscriptions to create content and download content before subscriptions expired. The interactive video below was created on Genial.ly, using a "trial" subscription.

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