Each week we meet via Twitter for #IOLchat to discuss current issues related to online learning. Participants include students, instructors, eLearning companies, schools, publishers, and instructional designers.
Some say the future of higher education is blended – including both face-to-face and online components. The Sloan Consortium defines a blended course as one in which 30% to 70% of the instruction is delivered online. Ideally, this approach brings together the best of both worlds, but how do you build these kinds of experiences? Students, faculty, administrators, and developers all have a stake in the results – courses designed to enhance learning achievement. Here’s a summary of the conversation:
- Don’t just “do” blended learning. Is it right for you and your learners? “Consider ‘why’ you’re doing it” and determine “what you hope to achieve.”
- Before you begin, “Ask yourself: What do I want students to learn?”
- Assess your motives and needs, as well as those of your students.
- Look at backwards planning techniques – starting with your learning objectives in mind.
- Look for the “right” technology tools to meet the needs of students as they work toward the learning objectives.
- If you are converting from face-to-face to blended: review the existing curriculum and instructional strategies. Consider where changes or shifts need to take place before planning for the use of technology.
What’s in a Name?
- The characteristics of a “good” blended course describe good learning experiences overall, no matter the delivery mode: engages learners, strengthens online literacies, and builds communities of learners.
- “If we focus on the learning and aids for that, then it will work regardless” of how it’s delivered.
- There are multiple definitions and interpretations of what blended learning could entail – make sure you clearly describe to students what they can expect from the experience and what you expect of them.
Student Success and Retention
- Moving to a blended format shifts some activities and interactions online, allowing students to participate on their schedules. This may benefit a larger group of students than those who would be able to register for on-campus courses.
- Prepare students for blended learning classes. They need “a willingness to try new things, especially if it’s their first blended course.” They also “need to understand the purpose behind” your blended approach and to “be familiar with the tech tools” used in the course.
Food for Thought
- Online communities established across blended courses (at program level) may increase support available to all students.
- Support services could be blended, too. Students may benefit from having on-ground and online options for advising, tech support, etc.
- Experiencing a blended course may be a good way for face-to-face students to try out online learning and practice required skills, such as digital writing and netiquette.
Take a closer look at a couple of opportunities to find out more about blended learning options (free to attend!):
- Webinar: Blended Learning and Flipped Classrooms is an online panel presentation using Google+ Hangouts scheduled for August 23rd, 2012 at 11AM PDT.
- MOOC: BlendKit2012 is based on The University of Central Florida’s open-licensed BlendKit Course materials and is led by UCF facilitators. The five-week course for instructors and designers begins on September 24th, 2012.
Thanks to @nikkiperela, @DistanceMN, @MikeGwaltney, @ODU_DL, @FacultyFocus, and @verenanz for participating in the live event. And we appreciate those who joined us as part of Connected Educator Month! Help us continue the discussion in the comments area on this page.
For more from the most recent live session, review the chat feed below. Our past chats can be found on the archives page.
This week’s read aheads:
The Replacement Model: Examples That Substitute Out-of-Class Activities for Some In-Class Time from The National Center for Academic Transformation
This week’s chat feed:
Image credit: opensourceway, Flickr, CC-BY-SA