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Blended Learning Lab

Blended Learning Lab

About the Lab

The Blended Learning Lab is creating a Ryerson learning ecosystem in which students move through their programs seamlessly, taking a mix of fully online, blended and classroom courses. The initiative emerges from the priorities for eLearning, evolving over five years of consultation and proposed by the eLearning Working Group. The Blended Learning Lab takes a collaborative approach to shaping the future of eLearning at Ryerson so that the University can answer what blended learning could be in a specifically Ryerson context.

The Blended Learning Lab brings together educators, students, academic administrators together with a team of instructional designers and technologists. In the Lab we are creating a flexible learning ecosystem through exploration, experimentation and evidence-informed pedagogical transformation with blended learning.

Man looking at laptop with a web-diagram on the screen
Fostering a Community of Practice

The Blended Learning Lab is activating a community of practice around blended learning to support the 9 projects and the entire Ryerson community in course innovation.

The term blended learning is used broadly to describe any combination of in-class and online delivery. More accurately, it refers to the carefully considered integration of online and classroom instructional methods to increase student learning and provide more control in terms of the time, pace and place of learning.

Blended learing at Ryerson: flexibility with pace, place and time; active learning in the classroom, equitable access to high quality learning.

Blended Learning at Ryerson—Embracing values of active learning within a flexible, equitable and inclusive learning environment for Ryerson students.

  1. Exploration

    In this stage, you will investigate different options for how to deliver course content and how students could engage with that content. You may reconsider existing materials, check out examples of other courses, and think of innovative solutions to learning and teaching challenges. During this stage, you will start consulting with an Instructional Designer who can advise you on various approaches to consider.

  2. Course planning and design

    Now it’s time to come up with how the ideas and possibilities you discovered in the exploration phase could be practically applied to the course. Working with an Instructional Designer, the first step is often to revise the course outline and to focus on clarifying your learning outcomes or what you hope the students will learn by taking the course. This may involve adjusting your original vision. You’ll look at what components you plan to deliver online and how you see students interacting with these components. Then, you’ll take a step back and consider how the online content will relate to the in-class portion of the course and ensure both components work cohesively. It’s at this stage that you might begin to think about how you can use your classroom time differently. Blended learning often leads to increased active learning opportunities when content delivery is no longer a focus of in-class time 

    Pencil writing notes
  3. Production planning and design

    You will start developing how you see the online components taking shape and work with the Instructional Designer and Instructional Technologist to determine course branding and visual design, software considerations, multimedia components and production timelines to ensure the plan is feasible. The team will work with you to make a production plan that keeps the overall vision in mind, and decide on some key dates for check-ins, revisions and deliverables.

    Calendar and schedule
  4. Prototype

    By developing one learning module as a prototype, the team can revise, test, and assess resource needs before diving into full production. This step will also help all involved to be clear on the process that will work for your unique project.

  5. Course Development

    Based on the prototype, course and production planning developed in the previous stages, the rest of the online components are produced during this phase. This will involve the whole team, and will depend on the final design elements.  Course development might include: content development, script writing, multimedia production, revision and quality control all being part of the production process. This will be the most time-consuming stage. With a good plan developed with the team in planning stage, it should be an efficient and satisfying process.

    Music note, play button, image, and word document.
  6. Implementation/Testing

    This is the step when all the content developed through the process thus far is placed into D2L. It is also tested and reviewed for accessibility and functionality within D2L. Sometimes this step  and course development can happen concurrently.

  7. Deployment/Delivery

    This is when the course goes live and is offered to students. The instructor will need to be active and available as students engage in the course. Production support may also be on hand to help with any unforeseen technical issues with the content.

    Stick figure working at desk on computer.
  8. Evaluation

    The evaluation stage can take many forms, but the main objective is to find out if the course was effective in meeting the needs of learners, and whether it improved their experience when compared to a fully in-class version of the course. Other areas of evaluation may include the instructor’s experience in delivering the course and the quality and functionality of multimedia content. In the end, it will inform where you go next and you may find yourself going through many of the stages again in small ways and the course evolves.

    Drawing tablet
  9. Revisions/Updates

    A blended course will need updates and adjustments based on evaluations, currency, and changing objectives. Through this process, we hope to position you to be able to take on some of these changes independently. However, we will provide periodic consultation to support you and your course moving forward.

  • Blended learning will ensure more equitable access to high quality learning
  • Students will benefit from increased flexibility of time, pace and place
  • Active learning methods will improve student learning
  • The classroom-only format challenges ability to meet the needs of students
  • Course innovation is supported by your Chair/Director and Dean.  

If you answered yes to one or more, consider learning more about how you can join the Blended Learning Lab.

Professor lecturing class, student raising hand, and students doing work on laptops.

A focus on blended learning at Ryerson is timely. Many faculty, instructors, and programs have already started incorporating blended learning in their courses. New blending learning projects will be able to build on the university’s long-established commitment to high quality, responsive and inclusive education. Ryerson is already a leader in the delivery of fully-online courses and programs, and the Office of eLearning is pleased to build on the university's accomplishments through blended learning support and consultation.

Compelling reasons Ryerson has decided to ramp-up a systematic approach to blended learning:

  • A growing proportion of Ryerson students are undertaking long commutes to attend classes on campus, and many confront a range of work and family responsibilities. For these students, there are considerable advantages to a range of learning options, some of which can be engaged with off-campus and at flexible times.
  • The advantages that flexible and active learning methods provide means improving accessibility for ever-increasing diversity of Ryerson’s learning community.
  • The space crunch at Ryerson and the reality of growing class sizes all make the arguments in favour of blended learning that much more powerful.

Ideal contexts for blended learning:

  1. Large-enrolment courses with a mix of students from different programs and with varied levels of incoming knowledge.
  2. Courses in which students work collaboratively in class to apply course content after engaging with foundational knowledge online.
  3. Courses in which students are off-campus for some part of scheduled course time.

The Lab is supporting 9 blended learning projects in this inaugural year.

Projects meet one or more of three eligibility requirements:

  • Adapting a large enrolment first-year classroom-only course to a blended format;
  • Adapting core courses suitable for blended learning; or
  • Exploring alternative models for blended course or program support at Ryerson.

Two students working on laptop and video production camera. 

The first blended courses will be offered at Ryerson in Fall 2020.

The following faculty and instructors have joined the Blended Learning Lab.

Faculty of Science

Lydia Chen 
Andrew McWilliams 

Charlotte de Araujo
Lynda McCarthy
Andrew Laursen
Karen Puddephatt

Ted Rogers School of Management

Rachel Dodds

Faculty of Engineering & Architectural Science

Michael Chapman

Faculty of Communication & Design

Joseph Medaglia

Faculty of Community Services

Judy Paisley
Megan Cowan

Nancy Purdy
Annette Bailey
Karen LeGrow
Anneke Rummens
Margareth Zanchetta

Pamela Robinson

Ian Young

In May 2019 the Lab came together for the first time for a workshop on designing their course.

In the two-day Blended Learning Lab workshop, faculty members designed student journey maps to understand their students better and to build a course that would fit their needs.

Ryerson faculty members worked on project planning, course design, and learned how to integrate technology into their courses at the Blended Learning Lab workshop.

Faculty members are looking to enhance Ryerson students' learning experience by taking a blended learning approach with their courses.

Future opportunities for the community of practice may include skill sharing sessions, student panels and guest speakers.

The Lab will be meeting again in August 2019 to report back to the community on their findings as they develop and deliver new blended courses.

View a PDF filepresentation about the Blended Learning Lab.