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Introduction to Online and Blended Courses

So what's different about teaching an online or blended course? The chart below gives a snapshot of how different formats stack up. 

A note about terminology --  a “hybrid” approach to education (also known as “blended”), whether in a single course or threaded throughout a program, balances face-to-face and online environments. A course is generally considered hybrid when the percentage of work done online is between 30-70%. The design challenge is to figure out what course parts can work online and when and how to use the face-to-face sessions to the best advantage.

Hybrid courses take many formats. For instance, online discussions can augment classroom sessions as follow-up to or preparation for a session. The course can  be "flipped," so that lectures are online and students come to class for discussion or activity only.  Online learning can replace a good portion of in-person class time, thus reducing the need for on-campus meetings. Within programs, there might be concentrated on-campus sessions lasting a few days that build on extensive online work. Also, a hybrid program might also include a mix of fully online, fully in-person, and hybrid courses

Blended/Hybrid Teaching: Resources and References

  • Jay Caulfield, How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course: Achieving Student-Centered Learning through Blended Classroom, Online and Experiential Activities (2011).
  • Faculty Resource on Hybrid Courses and Ten Questions to Consider When Redesigning a Course for Hybrid Teaching and Learning from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.   Advice includes taking the conversion from traditional to hybrid slowly and to limit the number of technology tools introduced early on.
  • Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (2010) by Elizabeth Barkley. Ideas for the in-person portions of a hybrid course. (This is an ebook through Gelman Library

Comparing Delivery Modes

  Advantage and Opportunities Limitations and Challenges
Online (fully)

Convenience and flexibility in both place and time.

Increased opportunities for all learners to participate, including those who are shy or reticent in face-to-face settings.

Can facilitate a higher-quality dialog because there is time for reflection (asynchronous communication).

Provide for spontaneous online interaction (synchronous communication and conferencing).

Opportunities for student-centered and collaborative learning.

Challenge yourself to think about teaching in new ways.

Take advantage of online materials/materials in different format.

Quizzes pretty much open book.

Time requirements can be hefty (eg. logging in throughout the week and on weekends).

Requires self-discipline and time management skills.

Need to work to build community/connection.

Need to design course "up front" (eg. most readings, mini-lectures, assignments)

Relies on technology being functional and accessible.

Face-to-Face

Can immediately clarify/explain/clear issues up - Immediate feedback and interaction.

Familiar environment for students and faculty.

Communication through voice tone and body language.

Need to think on one's feet.

Constrained by time and geography.

Can be to easy to conduct classes on the fly.

Hybrid

Pedagogical richness through combination of modes.

Benefits of both online and in-person formats.

Greatest opportunity for learning through social and community projects.

Difficult to coordinate online and face-to-face course portions.

Limitations of both face-to-face and online formats.

 

 

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