Blended + Inquiry Based Learning BY: amanda Glover

What is Blended Learning?

In order to achieve higher order thinking and problem solving in a learning environment two common complaints are "We don't have enough time" and "We don't have enough materials/technology". Blended learning can be utilized in classroom for learners of all ages thus empowering the learner by allowing for a more student-centered learning environment focusing more on the mastery of their learning, opposed to a strict time based structure of learning.

According to the Christensen Institute, the definition of blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns: at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace; at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home; and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.

How can I implement a blended learning environment?


There are a variety of models in which facilitators could follow to enhance the blended learning environment. No matter what subject area or age level being taught, blended learning environments with a clear purpose and thoughtful integration can have powerful, long lasting effects on learning.

Now I completely understand the challenges public schools face with state and federal regulations of how time may be spent through out the student's day. However, if facilitators can think inventively about the purpose of the learning tasks, then perhaps the time could be scheduled in a creative way!

What is Inquiry Based Learning?

Although the name it's self suggests a simple answer, the definition is multilayered and can become complex. However, it should be clarified that there are various kinds of inquiry-based learning such as;

Confirmation inquiry

"Learners are given a question, as well as a method, to which the end result is already known. The goal is to confirm the results. This enables learners to reinforce already established ideas, and to practice their investigative skills." (Pappas, 2014)

Structured inquiry

"Learners are given the question and the method of achieving the result, but the goal is to provide an explanation that is already supported by the evidence gathered during and through the investigative process." (Pappas, 2014)

Guided inquiry

"Learners are only given a question. The main goal is to design the method of investigation and then test the question itself. This type of inquiry is not typically as structured as the previously mentioned forms." (Pappas, 2014)

Open inquiry

"Learners must form their own questions, design investigative methods, and then carry out the inquiry itself. They must present their results at the end of the process." (Pappas, 2014)

Problem based learning is a popular form of student centered, inquiry based learning which focuses on an engineering design process and solution which is not in the form of a physical product.

For example, some problem based learning topics could be what is the best way to stop the flu at school, what is the cheapest form of transportation in the city, or what is it about Fortnite that makes it so addicting? Ok, maybe I got a little carried away with the last example, but the point it, it needs to be a real-world, relevant topic that the learners want to learn the solution to.

Similar to problem based learning, project based learning is another popular form of student centered, inquiry based learning which focuses on the production of a product which is a working solution to the original inquiry question.

Education of the Future

Blended + Inquiry Based Learning

Learners deserve the opportunity to gain mastery in a personalized, meaningful, and impactful way. Technology allows more freedom and choice in when, where, and how we learn. Humans are naturally curious and innovative with a need for their choices and voices to be heard, so why isn't our education system catering to the needs and demands of it's learners? Until we can fully address how to make that change as a nation, allowing for a blended learning environment while driving instruction through inquiry based learning is the best solution, and opportunity, that learners deserve.

What are some learning experiences that you think participants could gain through a blended, inquiry based learning environment?

For example, our learning Gerry asked the question, "How can I avoid students and parents during the summer?" Through an inquiry process, he invented a product called the "Educator Summer Avoidance App". He identified a real-world problem that was relevant to his life, with a blend of teacher instruction and online content, he fulfilled a solution to his question. Gerry also chose to share his results via a video recording and posting it on Youtube for his authentic audience. Way to go Gerry!

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Created with images by William Iven - "scrabble tiles and smartphone" • Marvin Meyer - "untitled image" • TeroVesalainen - "idea innovation imagination" • Brooke Cagle - "Sponsored by Google Chromebooks"

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