Designing a blended course

What is a blended course?


The following definition of blended learning has been adopted by the University of Ottawa.

A blended course is designed such that some in-class time is substituted by equally meaningful online activities.

This means that the in-class and online portions of a course are complementary and have been thoughtfully combined to meet the needs of the learner and the goals of the course. The online components are not an addition to a full course load but a purposeful substitution of some in-class activities.

To expand on this definition, there is also a limit to how many classes an instructor may place online. For a course to be considered blended, we require that 20 – 80% of a course be substituted by online activities. For example, in a 12 week course at least 2 face-to-face classes (20%) would need to be substituted with online activities to a maximum of 10 classes online (80%).

A model based reflective teaching practices

Designing a blended course is based on a set of specific actions. To help instructors who wish to make this educational transition, the Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS) of the University of Ottawa proposes a model that reviews components of the course design process in the context of transforming a course into a blended format. 

Instructions: click on different stages of the course design process (each circle) to reveal the associated information, resources and/or links.

Licence Creative Commons

The Designing a Blended Course Tool created by the Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS) of the University of Ottawa (Canada) is made available under the terms of the Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 4.0 International.


Articles on blended learning

General Theory 

  1. Siemens, G., & Dawson, S. (2015). Preparing for the Digital University. Picciano – Blended learning research perspectives
  2. Graham, C. R. (2013). Emerging practice and research in blended learning. Handbook of distance education, 3.
  3. Halverson, L. R., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., & Drysdale, J. S. (2012). An analysis of high impact scholarship and publication trends in blended learning. Distance Education, 33(3), 381-413.
  4. Halverson, L. R., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., Drysdale, J. S., & Henrie, C. R. (2014). A thematic analysis of the most highly cited scholarship in the first decade of blended learning research. The Internet and Higher Education, 20, 20-34.
  5. Hood, M. (2013). Bricks or clicks? Predicting student intentions in a blended learning buffet. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(6), 762-776.
  6. Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press.
  7. Margulieux, L. E., Bujak, K. R., McCracken, W. M., & Majerich, D. M. (2014). Hybrid, blended, flipped, and inverted: defining terms in a two-dimensional taxonomy. In Paper accepted to the 12th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Education. Honolulu, HI January (Vol. 2014, pp. 5-9).
  8. Yuen, A. H., Deng, L., Fox, R., & Tavares, N. J. (2009). Engaging students with online discussion in a blended learning context: issues and implications. In Hybrid learning and education (pp. 150-162). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  9. Torrisi-Steele, G., & Drew, S. (2013). The literature landscape of blended learning in higher education: the need for better understanding of academic blended practice. International Journal for Academic Development, 18(4), 371-383.
  10. Owston, R., York, D., & Murtha, S. (2013). Student perceptions and achievement in a university blended learning strategic initiative. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 38-46.
  11. Woods, R., Badzinski, D. M., & Baker, J. (2007). Student perceptions of blended learning in a traditional undergraduate environment. Blended learning: Research perspectives, 203-229.
  12. Caravias, V. (2014). Teachers' Conceptions and Approaches to Blended Learning: A Literature Review. In The Third International Conference on E-Learning and E-Technologies in Education (ICEEE2014) (pp. 61-75). The Society of Digital Information and Wireless Communication.
  13. Gerbic, P. (2011). Teaching using a blended approach–what does the literature tell us?. Educational Media International, 48(3), 221-234.
  14. Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (2011). Understanding cognitive presence in an online and blended community of inquiry: Assessing outcomes and processes for deep approaches to learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(2), 233-250.
  15. Akyol, Z., Garrison, D. R., & Ozden, M. Y. (2009). Online and blended communities of inquiry: Exploring the developmental and perceptional differences. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(6), 65-83.
  16. Moskal, P., Dziuban, C., & Hartman, J. (2013). Blended learning: A dangerous idea?. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 15-23.
  17. Kaleta, R., Skibba, K., & Joosten, T. (2007). Discovering, designing, and delivering hybrid courses. Blended learning: Research perspectives, 111-143.

Institutional Organization 

  1. Porter, W. W., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. A., & Welch, K. R. (2014). Blended learning in higher education: Institutional adoption and implementation. Computers & Education, 75, 185-195.
  2. Garrison, D. R., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The internet and higher education, 7(2), 95-105.
  3. Wallace, L., & Young, J. (2010). Implementing blended learning: Policy implications for universities. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 13(4).
  4. Graham, C. R., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. B. (2013). A framework for institutional adoption and implementation of blended learning in higher education. The internet and higher education, 18, 4-14.
  5. Owston, R. (2013). Blended learning policy and implementation: Introduction to the special issue. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 1-3.
  6. Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2013). Institutional change and leadership associated with blended learning innovation: Two case studies. The internet and higher education, 18, 24-28.
  7. Singleton, D. M. (2013). Transitioning to Blended Learning: The Importance of Communication and Culture. Journal of Applied Learning Technology, 3(1).
  8. Carbonell, K. B., Dailey-Hebert, A., & Gijselaers, W. (2013). Unleashing the creative potential of faculty to create blended learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 29-37.
  9. Taplin, R. H., Kerr, R., & Brown, A. M. (2013). Who pays for blended learning? A cost–benefit analysis. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 61-68.

Design of Blended Courses

  1. Spanjers, I. A., Könings, K. D., Leppink, J., Verstegen, D. M., de Jong, N., Czabanowska, K., & van Merriënboer, J. J. (2015). The promised land of blended learning: Quizzes as a moderator. Educational Research Review, 15, 59-74.
  2. Shea, P. (2007). Towards a conceptual framework for learning in blended environments. Blended learning: Research perspectives, 19-35.
  3. Hoic-Bozic, N., Mornar, V., & Boticki, I. (2009). A blended learning approach to course design and implementation. Education, IEEE Transactions on, 52(1), 19-30.
  4. McGee, P., & Reis, A. (2012). Blended Course Design: A Synthesis of Best Practices. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(4), 7-22.
  5. Helms, S. A. (2014). Blended/hybrid courses: a review of the literature and recommendations for instructional designers and educators. Interactive Learning Environments, 22(6), 804-810.
  6. Ausburn, L. J. (2004). Course design elements most valued by adult learners in blended online education environments: An American perspective. Educational Media International, 41(4), 327-337.
  7. Shibley, I., Amaral, K. E., Shank, J. D., & Shibley, L. R. (2011). Designing a blended course: Using ADDIE to guide instructional design. Journal of College Science Teaching, 40(6), 80-85.
  8. Dukes III, L. L., Koorland, M. A., & Scott, S. S. (2009). Making blended instruction better: Integrating the principles of universal design for instruction into course design and delivery. Action in Teacher Education, 31(1), 38-48.
  9. Precel, K., Eshet-Alkalai, Y., & Alberton, Y. (2009). Pedagogical and design aspects of a blended learning course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(2).
  10. Foster, M. K. Report on Blended Course Design: A Bootcamp for Instructors.
  11. Gedik, N., Kiraz, E., & Ozden, M. Y. (2013). Design of a blended learning environment: Considerations and implementation issues. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(1).
  12. Huang, R., & Zheng, L. (2009). An empirical study on blended learning in the introduction to educational technology course. In Hybrid Learning and Education (pp. 122-132). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.