By: Shirley Merith
You’re told that the course you are currently teaching needs to be redesigned from a traditional to blended learning format. Great! no problem you’re up for the challenge, so you agree to do this then the bomb drops. This redesign needs to be done before the start of the semester, which is a short amount of time away. Whether you say this directly or in your quiet voice, the response is “Are you kidding me? Now that’s unrealistic.” Not to mention that you know nothing about blended learning. Since you have no choice but to make this change happen, you might as well get started. Here are a few suggestions that might help you to get the work done.
Yes, go ahead and panic get it out of your system because it’s going to happen anyway. If you’re the sort of person who values quality over quickness, then you will find this process frustrating. Once you get over the initial shock, finish complaining to yourself, and anybody else that will listen, you have to settle down and start processing how you are going to move forward.
You need to find out what the term blended learning means. Depending on who or what you read, the definition of blended learning can vary slightly. Blended learning combines face to face classroom interactions and self-directed learning online. Therefore, your role as a teacher will change significantly. Also, if your practical skills in technology are limited, you need to get up to date. Elements of technology such as interactive video’s, discussion boards or wikis will be key components in the new format.
First, review your course outline to determine which sections of the course needs face to face interaction, or can be done online. Second, you have to figure out how to integrate the two different learning formats. There should be smooth transitions between them both to avoid confusion for the students. Your lessons should always follow blooms taxonomy. Whether the students are in front of you or not, they should still be able to meet the learning objectives of the course.
Investigate how blended learning works from those who know it best. There are a countless number of journal articles, blogs, and books about this format. A 2013 study by Educause identified that nearly 4 out of 5 students in Canada (76%) and the US (79%) have taken a blended course. This means that many schools are already using this format to teach their students. Go to seminars, get training and ask people in the know to help you set up your course. Also, there are many digital tools that can help you with creating a blended learning course. Here are some tools to help support the transition.
If your assessments have always been in the traditional format, you will need to include some of your assessments in a digital format. There are teachers tools available that can help you with this. Remember not all assessments are suitable for your course, so take the time to find the ones that will challenge the students.
Think about how are you going to manage questions and assist students that need your help outside of the face to face environment. How much time will you need to allocate to each week to accomplish this? Additionally, students will need your support to learn how to manage their own time better.