Blended Learning – Cutting Edge Or A Double-Edged Sword?

by Kelly Walsh on September 25, 2011

Share

Excellent presentation provides thorough overview of process, tools, and lessons learned in university’s implementation of blended learning curriculum.

Instructional Designer and Teacher Kimberly Greene provides deep insights into Brandman University’s implementation of a blended learning environment in their School of Education. In the presentation, Greene discusses the goals of the effort, many of the technologies and approaches used, and identifies what worked well and what they’ve been working to improve.

The presentation also explores Greene’s experience working with peers to teach blended courses (also commonly referred to as ‘hybrid’ courses). Resistance to Web 2.0, social media, and synchronous tools was strong. Was there a place for “cutting edge” technology in preparing students to work in public schools? The double-edged sword of potential for learning versus the reality of how it played out was an eye-opener for a self-described “geek who thought she had all the answers”.

Following is an overview of some of the presentation’s key points:

After a transition from Chapman University College to Brandman University, a separate, fully accredited university within the Chapman University System, a decision was made to create a Blended Learning Environment, including the standardization of Blackboard Shells for the entire course catalog. The point of “blending” was to extend the learning experience and ensure that students would be constructively engaged throughout the week and be involved with their own construction of understanding on a more personal level, with less time in the physical classroom.

Traditional “on ground” 9 week courses with 5.5 hours of class time were translated into 8 week courses with 3.5 hours of face-to-face time and approximately 3 hours of extended engagement via an online environment facilitated through the Blackboard LMS. Each course was broken down and redesigned around a shell that housed all course content and explained the class design and flow for all instructors.

Efforts to prepare faculty (71 fulltime and 1400 adjuncts) included:

  • Training in the tools in general (Blackboard LMS, synchronous vs asynch, etc.)
  • Training in how to teach with the tools
  • Recognizing/discovering and understanding the value in teaching in a blended environment, and where Web 2.0 tools truly supported the learning objectives
  • A “sandbox” of the LMS basic shell was created for exploration and experimentation
  • Face-to-Face training was done in one-shot visits to campuses

Results – The Positives
Some of the positive outcomes of the effort included the following (be sure to explore the video presentation to learn more!):

  • A more collaborative environment for all faculty (full time and adjunct)
  • More opportunities for personalized feedback and instruction from the instructor
  • Greater opportunity for all students to have a “voice” within the class
  • An increase in collaboration among students

Results - The “Double-Edged Sword”
Among the more challenging aspects of the effort …

  • Lack of access or reliable Internet connections
  • Lack of confidence (old reliable ways no longer worked or were relevant)
  • A loss of a sense of “control”
  • Missing materials or poor directions
  • Feeling “put-upon” to produce results
  • Lack of technology in many public schools concerned many instructors, making them think they might be focusing on skills their students would not be able to use in the real world

Lessons Learned
Of all the knowledge gained in the effort and shared in this presentation, these are some of the most valuable take-aways. 

  • A shared understanding of “authentic application” in action and the relation to pedagogy/andragogy is crucial and must be revisited continually
  • More training from instructors/practitioners, rather than IT support, is crucial
  • Student preparation for using technology must be given more focus and is equally as important as faculty training
  • The “2.0” tools must continue to move the class forward rather than simply rehash what was done in the classroom.
  • Enthusiasm alone is not enough! Real world applicability is crucial
  • Comprehensive training must include opportunities for mistakes and the chance for those mistakes to be tools for inquiry, rather than simply viewed as a lack of ability on the part of the instructor
  • It takes a village (instructional designers, IT specialists, peers, simulations that offer feedback, student feedback)
  • Everyone has their own “expert blind spot” and it can be very uncomfortable for the individual to accept; the person assisting that individual must not make light of the issue or assume it stems from a lack of intelligence

Thanks to Kimberly Greene and Brandman University for sharing this excellent presentation.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
7 Stories From Educators About Teaching In The Flipped Classroom
The Changing Dynamic of Online Education
7 Challenges To Be Aware Of When Considering Distance Learning

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

Print This Post Print This Post

Previous post:

Next post: