Garrison, D. R., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The internet and higher education, 7(2), 95-105.


As educational practices change in higher education many faculty members have begun to utilize Internet-based tools within traditional face-to-face classroom settings. Garrison and Kanuka (2004) discuss how Internet-based tools and traditional measures can be combined in a format known as blended learning. The authors define blended learning as “blended learning is the thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences” (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004, p.96). The purpose of this paper is to look closely at how blended learning can be used in higher education settings to encourage collaborative learning among students and teachers. The position of the authors is that blended learning is a learning format that is low risk and more effective way to incorporate technology into higher education learning environments. Through this paper the authors have highlighted the importance of and the widespread use of blended learning practices in higher education. However, the authors clearly articulate the need for a supportive structure for educators and students who utilize blended learning to fully realize the benefits.

A summary of Key Points

  • Changing Practices- It is essential that blended learning not simply do what has already been done with new tools, but rather utilize the format for a redesign of teaching and learning.
  • Transforming higher education through blended learning is possible, but not without making changes to current practices and policies.
  • Front End of Blended Learning- Administration and Development-
    • Policy- need for formal policies that support blended learning
    • Planning- strategic and operational
    • Resources- financial, human, and technical
    • Scheduling- “both faculty and administration need to rethink how courses are being offered”
    • Support- support is needed for BOTH students and teachers/faculty
  • Blended learning is not a passing fad- educational institutions must adapt and change to incorporate the benefits while meeting high learning standards

Design principles

  • Blended learning incorporates both online learning and face-to-face aspects, but to be truly effective there must be integration of the two aspects not just adding on to one another
  • Facilitates a community of inquiry that has all three elements- cognitive, social, and teacher presence
  • Teacher presence provides the ability to scaffold responsibility and independence of learners

Example work:

George‐Walker, L. D., & Keeffe, M. (2010). Self‐determined blended learning: a case study of blended learning design. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(1), 1-13.

George-Walk and Keefe discuss a pedagogical approach to blended learning in higher education that is focused on the learner.

Discussion Questions

  • How do the authors define blended learning?
  • What are the elements of a community of inquiry?
  • How can administrators in higher education support faculty and students in a blended learning environment?
  • What are some changes that might need to be made in current programs?

 Additional Resource:



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