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Bookend and Sandwich Delivery Modes

Bookend and Sandwich delivery are two of the more popular means of delivering classes in a timetable or delivery mode other than the once-a-week model.

Bookend and Sandwich delivery can also refer to a more concentrated focus of delivery within a course. The concept of bookending or sandwiching can be applied to how single lessons are planned, or specific activities. But before we explore these possibilities, we'll look at what a bookended or sandwiched course is or how it might look.


Book-ending is a descriptive title for a course delivery mode which starts and ends with one form of delivery, and uses another form of delivery in-between. This has been popular with distance education for year. Students will attend a weekend or a week-long on-campus set of classes, then work on individual projects with only online or correspondence contact for most of the duration of the course, then reassemble for a final weekend or week.

Bookending, however, does not have to be restricted to distance learning. It is still an excellent mechanism for rescheduling timetabling of the face-to-face component of a course into a delivery time frame that might be much more appropriate for the course content, goals and outcomes, the assessment, and empowering the students' learning. So a bookend delivery for a course on campus might simply mean that the teaching academics and the students meet in class for several 3-4 hour blocks of time over a couple of days - possibly in week one of semester - then work in project teams using online communications support, ad hoc meetings arranged by the students to suit themselves, have consultant meetings with the academics by appointment - then reassemble at the end of the semester about week 12 in another set of time blocks - most probably for assessment, presentations, conference sessions, interactive feedback, debriefing, and similar end-of-course activities.


A Sandwich approach is a book-end approach with an additional mid-semester repeat of the delivery mode from the beginning and end of the course. Following the example given above in Bookends, having an additional block of face-to-face engagement mid-semester, possibly around week 6, or two shorter sessions approximately week 5 and 8.

Opportunities provided

Book-end and Sandwich mode courses are both simple timetabling or mechanistic methods of using Blended Learning effectively to make the most of the time students and student teams have to work on a course in the total time frame provided. This means that (given timetabling feasibility) academics can structure their courses much more flexibly, so learning takes place in the size "chunks" and the paced timing and order that best suits the subject matter and the preferred engagement methods.

Of course, both Book-end and Sandwich mode delivery can have considerable difference in feel of delivery for the students in a course, depending upon:

  1. Whether the live delivery component is a large-scale lecture or interactive seminar or a tutorial / lab or workshop set up
  2. Whether the online experience is only pre-recorded lecture; or contains any hybrid mix of online learning tools including: online lecture; LAMS; wiki; discussion boards; blogs; interactive online classroom; eSim or eScenarios; quizzes... (add every online tool you can think of to the list, and you still won't have exhausted the possibilities!)

And back to Intensive Mode

Intensive Mode can also be successfully strengthened by a book-end or sandwich approach. This usually entails the use of an introductory and closing face-to-face weekend, and engagement activities of varied lengths at varied intervals (online or offline or both) or team projects between. This is explored more comprehensively on our Small Group Delivery Mode page Intensive or Block.

This is not an exhaustive list of how bookend, sandwich or intensive mode can be applied - indeed, today we've really only looked at the scheduling (mechanistic and timetabling) aspect of building these approaches into course design and delivery and haven't explored other ways of using these concepts. For instance, bookend or sandwich a topic, a lesson, an activity... Certainly they are a great option for brightening and enlivening a lecture.

As we build our blog and site, more of these possibilities will be explored - especially as we consider how we can use Micro changes in a Mecro approach to build whole new Macro-approach courses.


Last updated 08 September 2013.

Pedagogical Possibilities for the Professions

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