Course Design for Blended Learning
Blended teaching most often refers to courses where a portion of the seat-time is replaced with out-of-class or technology-facilitated learning. This process describes a strategy for a course design approach where technology utilization is considered first and decisions for face-to-face elements are based on what is most needed for in-person student learning.
Most faculty have more familiarity and comfort with face-to-face teaching strategies than with the use of instructional technologies. When approaching the idea of reducing some of the face-to-face time, it is not always immediately intuitive that online teaching components come to the forefront of the instruction and face-to-face time must be dramatically adjusted as a result. When instructional technologies are explored as a focal point of the course design, what cannot be done well out-of-class becomes the emphasis for the face-to-face sessions.
- Based on the literature, course design is best started with solid, measurable learning objectives and determination of the course materials.
- The learning units, including course materials and learning activities as well as assessments, should next be chunked across the term. The list of unit elements can be adjusted in subsequent steps. A chronological chunking, preferably in weeks, is noted as a best practice in the literature. Keep a connection with the learning objectives in mind.
- The third stage is best suited for exploring, identifying, refining, and clarifying the use of instructional technologies for in-class use, out-of-class learning and assessments, and homework. Referencing examples like the Ed Tech Deck can be helpful for this stage. Refer again back to the learning objectives to ensure that each technology used enhances and engages the student in successful attainment of the learning objectives.
- With most of the learning materials, learning activities, and assessments now associated with instructional technologies, consider the remaining, more limited time in each learning unit for face-to-face activities. This is precious time, so ask: what will the students be struggling with that could be addressed in person? What group work would facilitate greater collaboration in learning? Can all of the learning objectives be accomplished for the course through the design and weaving together of the in-class and out-of-class elements?
- The final stage in this design cycle is that of evaluation. Review course design before, during, and after teaching to determine whether students are accomplishing the learning objectives. Avoid too many changes to the published curriculum during the teaching term; instead, record suggestions for revisions for future delivery.
This “reversed” course design (considering use of instructional technologies before deciding on face-to-face class session planning) is less intuitive. Further, those who prefer less use of technology will not be inclined to consider it before the in-class experience. Additionally, the assistance of an instructional designer/technologist in gaining experience with effective technologies may be desirable.
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