On the Line pp 157-173 | Cite as

Implementation of a Next-Generation Course Architecture for Blended Learning

  • Rodney Beard


A learning architecture for class management and student learning is described that incorporates a mix of online technology, mobile technology, and face-to-face learning. The architecture was implemented for four classes in Agribusiness Management in the Oklahoma State University program at International College Beijing, China Agricultural University in 2016. The architecture involves a combination of Internet technologies in a blended learning environment. Students work both online at home and in class to interact with next-generation learning management systems such as Piazza and Nb and to complete exercises using Jupyter interactive notebooks which allow a mix of verbal and numeric exercises to be completed by students in a single interactive document. Mobile technology is incorporated by linking classroom materials using QR codes so that students can directly access class materials using their phones. Class activity involved a mix of more traditional class delivery using lectures and mini-lectures where appropriate and computer labs where students engaged with both online materials in the classroom with instructor support. A number of these lab sessions were taught using methods borrowed from just-in-time teaching. The use of online anonymous discussions on Piazza and Nb lowered the participation threshold for students. In addition, Piazza’s support for equation typesetting allowed students to easily ask quantitative questions online. File management for the courses employed the Git version control system so that class materials were simply dropped into a local directory on the instructor’s laptop which synced with all the online learning systems. The method was used for teaching a range of subjects in Agribusiness; however, it can be employed in both blended and fully online learning environments. The paper will also discuss some challenges of using technology in teaching in a country like China in which the IT infrastructure is still being developed.


Blended learning Online learning Business education Mobile technology Interactive notebooks 



Thanks are due to James Williams at Renmin University for discussions on using Nb for lecture notes, David Karger from the Nb team at MIT CSAIL for providing crucial support when needed, and discussions with colleagues on teaching in China at ICB.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International College BeijingChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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