blended learning, sloan-c pillars, boundary object, evaluation, student satisfaction, black swan


The authors contend that blended learning represents a boundary object; a construct that brings together constituencies from a variety of backgrounds with each of these cohorts defining the object somewhat differently. The Sloan-C Pillars (learning effectiveness, access, cost effectiveness, student satisfaction, and faculty satisfaction provide a foundation for the evaluation of asynchronous learning networks that works equally well for the evaluation of blended learning environments. The Pillars and a simplified model of learning system, focus on inputs, processes, and outputs, and provide the framework for a case study of blended learning design and evaluation in a 500-student section of an Introductory Psychology course. Results of a multi-method evaluation of this course indicated very high levels of both learning effectiveness and student satisfaction. The article concludes with the suggestion that blended learning may represent a black swan, a high-impact, unpredicted, and rare even that highlights the limitations of our ability to reliably predict the future in any arena, including online learning environments.

Original Publication Citation

Laumakis, M., Graham, C.R., & Dziuban, C. (29) The Sloan pillars and boundary objects as a framework for evaluating lended learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(1), 75-87.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


The Sloan Consortium




David O. McKay School of Education


Instructional Psychology and Technology