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Blended learning, teaching and supervision at the University of Jyväskylä

22.12.2022

Peppi Taalas, Director, Centre for Multilingual Academic Communication, University of Jyväskylä

peppi.taalas@jyu.fi

Tiina Mäkelä, Postdoctoral researcher, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä

 tiina.m.makela@jyu.fi

Pasi Ikonen, Project researcher, Department of Language and Communication Studies, University of Jyväskylä
pasi.s.ikonen@jyu.fi

Salme Korkala, Lecturer, Centre for Multilingual Academic Communication, University of Jyväskylä

salme.korkala@jyu.fi  

Hannele Rajaniemi, Education coordinator, Institute of Educational Leadership, University of Jyväskylä
hannele.rajaniemi@jyu.fi

Teaching arrangements during the pandemic have generated a lot of discussions on post-pandemic modes of teaching and learning. In this publication, we present a research-based model for blended learning, teaching and supervision, created at the University of Jyväskylä.   The model can be used when planning flexible solutions that take into account the individual situations of teachers and students.

Background

The restrictions on the number of persons in physical spaces during the pandemic generated a lot of discussions on post-pandemic remote and hybrid working practices. Also subject to redefinition have been the forms, times, means and facilities of learning, teaching and supervision. In this publication, we present a research-based model for blended learning, teaching and supervision, created during JYULearn development work at the University of Jyväskylä. The five-person team consisting of researchers, teachers and other specialists got together on a regular basis to develop the model during spring 2022. The work consisted of analysing research literature, official documents and existing models of teaching and learning. The model was also modified based on feedback from Digital Services and university teachers who participated in JYULearn activities during the spring.

This model is meant to support pedagogically justified and technologically appropriate teaching that combines modes of working, equipment, places and times at the university. The model can be used when planning flexible teaching that takes into account the individual situations of teachers and students. It offers guidelines, for instance, for the curriculum planning.

What do the blended learning, teaching and supervision stand for?

The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö, 2021) defines the mode of teaching and learning (opetus- ja opiskelumuoto) as the way in which teaching and learning are organized, including the modes of operation, equipment, time and places. Teaching that combines onsite teaching, remote teaching and the independent work of students is called blended teaching (monimuoto-opetus, or sometimes sulautuva opetus) (Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö, 2021.)

In the research literature, the term “hybrid learning environments” is also used as a synonym for blended learning environments that utilize onsite meetings and technology-mediated remote working (Graham & Allen, 2005). Leinonen and Mäkelä (2023) see this hybrid teaching and learning situated in the centre of Miller’s (1998) four-square matrix (see Figure 1). In this model, hybrid teaching and learning combine, depending on what is necessary in each situation, (a) synchronous actions in the same place, (b) synchronous actions in different places, (c) asynchronous actions in the same place and (d) asynchronous activities in different places.

Figure 1. The times and places of hybrid teaching and learning (see Leinonen & Mäkelä, 2023)

Other similar terms for this kind of hybrid teaching include “mode neutral pedagogy” (Smith et al., 2008), “multi-access learning” (Irvine et al., 2013), “synchromodal classes” (Bell et al., 2014), “multi-options teaching” (Elder, 2018) and “hybrid-flexible” or “HyFlex” (Beatty, 2019). Different models vary in the way how and by which criteria (such as distance to campus, work-life requirements, family or health reasons, comfort), students are given the freedom to choose their preferred mode of working. In contemporary definitions of hybrid teaching, learning and learning environments, the term “hybrid” is also used for fluid interaction (muuntuva, sulava, sulautuva) in physical and virtual, as well as formal and informal, environments, comprising events that happen synchronously or asynchronously (e.g. Eyal & Gil, 2022; Stommel, 2018).

The term “synchronous hybrid” or “blended learning environment” (see Bower et al., 2015; Raes et al., 2020) refers more specifically to simultaneous situations, where some participants share the same physical space and others are participating from other locations using remote connections. The sessions can also be recorded for asynchronous studying that happens later. In everyday language, hybrid teaching often refers to this simultaneous interaction taking place in more than one physical space (cf. hybrid meeting). In the Finnish language, the term monipaikkaisuus (“multiple sites”) is sometimes used, though this can also refer to asynchronous working in different places.

In the development work of JYULearn at the University of Jyväskylä, the blended form of learning, teaching and supervision is defined in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Education and Culture (2021) as action that combines onsite teaching, remote teaching, synchronous remote and onsite teaching (so-called hybrid teaching) and students’ independent studying. The goal is to develop and support learning, teaching and supervision, where interaction and communication, engaging students and active learning are at the core.

The model that was developed in the JYULearn work, based on earlier research, is presented in Figure 2. Teaching emphasizes particularly interactivity and active learning. Blended learning, teaching and supervision combine different modes of time, places, work methods and equipment in a flexible, pedagogically justified and technologically appropriate way. The size of teaching groups may also vary. It is possible that the teacher alternates between onsite and remote teaching, asynchronously, during one course. Also, simultaneous (i.e., synchronous), onsite and remote teaching (so-called hybrid teaching) can be given. Blended teaching and learning also include independent studying. The goal is to design and implement functioning solutions that are as versatile as possible.

Figure 2. The model for blended learning, teaching and supervision

Onsite teaching means teaching taking place synchronously and in the same place. This includes lectures, working in small groups, seminars, introductions, conferences, workshops and laboratory work. The teacher has a significant role in facilitating the work. Technology is used in various ways, depending on what the situation requires.

Remote teaching means synchronous teaching that happens remotely, such as webinars, video conferences or working in virtual environments and virtual laboratories. The teacher has a significant role in facilitating the work. Working is fully dependent on technologies.

Synchronous onsite and remote teaching refers to “hybrid” teaching that happens in the same place (such as a classroom) and remotely at the same time. The teacher has a significant role in facilitating the work. Working is fully dependent on technologies. This hybrid mode enables groups to work in multiple locations by crossing the borders of departments, faculties, organisations, cities or countries, for example. Hybrid teaching includes possibilities to differentiate teaching between different participant groups (see different stages of hybrid teaching).

Independent studying means studying that happens independently, whether synchronously or asynchronously, alone or with a group, on campus or remotely. The students have an important role in organising their own working. Learning utilises digital and analogue learning resources, recordings, virtual environments and study materials produced by the students. It is also possible to complete fully independent online courses. Technology is used in various ways, depending on the needs of the specific situation. Independent studying should be firmly connected to the pedagogic plan and the content of the course, or another kind of study module.

For example, recordings made of teaching sessions enable students to follow the teaching at different times. Recordings can also be used to recap, at the students’ own pace, content that was especially difficult for them. With the help of recordings, students who were unable to participate in the teaching session can check instructions and study assignments afterwards, without the teacher needing to send separate instructions for them. When sharing recordings, it is important that the participants have given their consent to the fact that they might be heard or seen on the recording, or that the discussion parts of the session have been left out of the finished recording.

Different stages of hybrid teaching

Figure 3 was created to elaborate how the teacher can define hybrid teaching (meaning synchronous remote and onsite teaching) from the perspective of the participant. This includes variation, especially concerning how equal the opportunities to participate are for those who are on campus and those participating remotely. When this is made clear to the students, they will also know what to expect from the different modes of studying. The goal has also been to help reduce the workload of teachers when implementing different modes of teaching, especially during changing situations. There are also other variations in hybrid teaching: for example, teaching can be done from a remote location, but students are offered the opportunity to participate and work on campus.

Figure 3. Different stages of hybrid teaching from the perspective of student participation

Following the session

Emphasis is on the people attending live, but remote students have the opportunity to follow teaching remotely. This is a relatively easy option, for example, in situations where individual students are unable to participate (for a valid reason). The teacher’s main emphasis is on the students attending onsite. Providing an opportunity to watch the session can be used as a cost-effective alternative to giving compensatory assignments. This can be used in situations where watching the session is seen as sufficient for reaching the learning goals of the course at hand.

Partial participation

Remote learners are acknowledged as their own group, and they are given opportunities to participate in teaching using technology. Remote students can, for example, form their own team during group work. Remote students are given opportunities to participate in discussions.

Equal participation

Teaching has been designed in such a way that it treats onsite and remote students as equal in the teaching session. This can be enhanced, for example, by requiring everyone to log in to the video conference platform individually, so that they can see and hear each other as individuals. Onsite and remote students can work together in common small groups. Everyone has the full opportunity to interact during the class.

Conclusions

The model created in JYULearn development work for blended learning, teaching and supervision offers guidelines for the hybrid campus development as well as the curriculum planning for the years 2024-24 regarding flexible forms of studying at the University of Jyväskylä.   The goal is to design and implement as flexible, versatile, and functional solutions as possible without unnecessarily adding teachers’ workload in changing situations. We hope that the model is used when designing learning, teaching and supervision, where interaction and communication, engaging students and active learning are at the core. On the other hand, we think it is important that variation in opportunities for participation, for instance, in different stages of hybrid teaching are made clear for students.

We hope this text can clarify thoughts and arouse discussion on how different modes of teaching should be considered in curriculum development work and how combinations of these modes could be used during individual courses. These choices should always be connected to expected learning outcomes. There is also a practical question on how using the model can help relieve the workload of teachers during exceptional situations and, on the other hand, how flexible forms of studying could be supported. It is necessary to share models and best practices across institutional borders. In the near future we hope to see both thorough research reports as well as case examples related to blended learning.

Acknowledgements

Thank you for all the people who contributed to and commented on the model while it was being drafted.

References

Beatty, B. J. (2019). Beginnings: Where does hybrid-flexible come from? In B. J. Beatty, Hybrid-flexible course design: Implementing student-directed hybrid classes. EdTech Books. Retrieved from https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex/book_intro. 

​Bell, J., Sawaya, S. & Cain, W. (2014). Synchromodal classes: Designing for shared learning experiences between face-to-face and online students. International Journal of Designs for learning, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.14434/ijdl.v5i1.12657

Bower, M., Dalgarno, B., Kennedy, G. E., Lee, M. J., & Kenney, J. (2015). Design and Implementation factors in blended synchronous learning environments: Outcomes from a cross-case analysis. Computers & Education, 86, 1–17. 

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2015.03.006

Elder, S. J. (2018). Multi-options: An innovative course delivery methodology. Nursing Education Perspectives 39(2), 110–112. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000000174

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Leinonen, T. Mäkelä, T. (2023). Space and time in hybrid teaching and learning environments: Two cases and design principles. In M. Dascalu, P. Marti & F. Pozzi (Eds.), Polyphonic construction of smart learning ecosystems. SLERD 2022: Polyphonic construction of smart learning ecosystems (pp. 29‒46). Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies 908. Singapore: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-5240-1_3

Miller, III, T. K. (1998). Delivering engineering education via distance learning. https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/1998/nsf9892/deliver.htm.

Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö (2021). Opetus- ja koulutussanasto (OKSA) (2nd ed.). Helsinki: Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön julkaisuja 2021:10. 

Raes, A., Detienne, L., Windey, I. & Depaepe, F. (2020). A systematic literature review on synchronous hybrid learning: Gaps identified. Learning Environments Research, 23(3), 269‒290. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10984-019-09303-z

Smith, B., Reed, P. & Jones, C. (2008). ’Mode Neutral’ pedagogy. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning, 11(1). https://old.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2008/Smith_Reed_Jones.pdf

Stommel, J. (2018). What is hybrid pedagogy? In S. M. Morris & J. Stommel, An urgency of teachers: The work of critical digital pedagogy (pp. 174–178). Madison: Hybrid Pedagogy Inc.

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