Aims One aim of this chapter is to examine both what blended learning means in ELT today and to describe both existing materials and practice. A second aim is to examine ways that materials can be developed and implemented within a blended learning framework, where educators are required to develop their own materials to meet local needs. The third area that needs to be addressed is the question of how far blended learning supports learning and what its limitations are. Introduction Hockly ( 2018) states that the term blended learning is widely used but has ‘proved difficult to define’ (p. 97). In ELT the term dates back approximately to the publication of Blended Learning by Sharma and Barrett (2007). The initial aim of this chapter, in fact, is to explore the concept of Blended Learning, and to differentiate it from Online Distance Learning, and the Flipped Classroom Approach. These approaches have obvious parallels insofar as the technological aspects are concerned but also differ in fundamental ways, which will be examined briefly. Existing materials and practice, however, differ considerably ranging from the commercially developed online components of existing course books, which may be conceived of as resource materials, or which may be online platforms that can be used together with specific course books. At the other end of the scale local institutions may provide practitioners with content management systems such as Moodle or Blackboard and the courses can then be developed at that local level to meet the specific needs of teachers and students. As Whittaker ( 2013)says, in the introduction to the British Council publication which examined 20 case studies of Blended Learning worldwide, the study ‘…highlighted the numerous significant inconsistencies in the language delivery between them, for example the length of courses, the timetables and syllabi.’ (p.7). A brief examination of how a standard may be conceived of, then , is useful. The primary aim of this chapter, however, is to examine different ways in which materials can be developed ensuring that they are created in a principled manner as called for by many materials development experts (Howard & Major, 2005; Richards, 2006; Tomlinson, 2003; Tomlinson, 2011). The focus here is particularly on local practitioners developing their own materials, and whilst the development of any type of pedagogical materials should be done according to well defined principles, it is, perhaps even more true of blended learning materials where their end purpose may vary and need to be adapted for application both in a digital context and in face to face classrooms. As Sharma and Barrett (op. cit.) say ‘a blended learning course run without a principled approach may be seen as an “eclectic” blending together of course components, and can end up as rather a mish-mash’. In order to avoid this a principled framework needs to be developed. An example of such a framework will be supplied here with reference to materials that I, personally, have developed for my university ELT context. The subject of how such a framework, and such an approach can support learners, together with the inevitable limitations both for learners and practitioners that are inherent in the nature of the approach forms the final, concluding section of the chapter.
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