Have you ever taken a blended/hybrid course? Have you ever wanted to? Would the ability to participate in High-Quality Professional Development (HQPD) in a blended setting appeal to you? Blended and online learning options have grown in leaps and bounds over the past 10 years.
- In a recent survey of teachers conducted by Campus Technology, fully 73% of faculty responded that they now offer blended models for all of their courses, with only 15% continuing to offer face-to-face courses with no online access.
- The 2010 U.S. Department of Education meta-analysis of online learning studies found that adult professional students in blended learning classes outperformed those in fully face-to-face or fully online courses.
The direction is clear, as is the reason for their popularity. By combining online, self-paced elements with face-to-face or synchronous live sessions – such as webinars – blended learning offers the best of both worlds.
As a participant, how can you make the most of your blended learning experience? What might you do differently from a fully face-to-face course? Let’s take a look at some tips you can use to maximize your blended learning experience.
- Familiarize yourself with the tools to be used in your course. Be it Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, MOOC’s, or one of the many other online learning management systems (LMS) you may encounter, take a few moments to click around and check them out. You will not break anything, I promise. You will gain confidence and a comfort level with the system, which will allow you to engage more fully in the content, without the anxiety of being unfamiliar with the system.
- Ask for help. If the LMS you’re using is new to you, do not hesitate to ask for help. Courses should provide contact information for technical assistance in the event that any issues present themselves. I suggest the five minute rule; if an issue cannot be solved by you in five minutes, ask for help.
- Be mindful of time management. Although you may have three weeks, six weeks, or an entire semester to complete your coursework, do not wait until the last minute to begin. As you familiarize yourself with the objectives, expectations, and timeframes of your blended course, lay out a schedule for yourself. How will you spread the work out throughout the course to ensure you are able to meet all requirements prior to the close of the course? Have a plan, and do not wait until the last minute.
- Participate in all aspects of the course. As with a face-to-face course, components of a blended course are carefully considered. Take advantage of all that is offered – activities, readings, knowledge checks, videos, discussions, and follow-up. Each component of the course is developed to enhance your learning experience, so do take the time to complete and consider each of the items provided.
- Project an open online presence. By this, I mean engage your fellow learners by participating in online discussions, creating an interactive and academically vigorous dialog with your peers. Do your part to develop a supportive, reflective community of learning. Share ideas and expertise amongst your colleagues. Your experience in the course will only be made better by your efforts.
Blended courses offer convenience and ease of access to HQPD. Use these tips to ensure that you get the most out of your blended course experiences.
Submitted by: Kate Anderson, Instructional Technology Coordinator, SABES PD Center for Educational Leadership and Strengthening ABE Programs and the PD Center for English of Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
Cover image: Illustration of teaching environment findings from the Campus Technology's 2017 Teaching with Technology Survey showing that 73% of higher education faculty members say they employ a mix of online and face-to-face teaching in their courses, 15% teach exclusively face-to-face, and 12% teach fully online. From “Survey: Blended Learning on the Rise” by R. Kelly, September 20, 2017, Campus Technology. Copyright 2001–2017 by 1105 Media Inc, Ed-Tech Group. Reprinted with permission.
Kelly, R. (2017, September 20). “Survey: Blended Learning on the Rise” Campus Technology. Retrieved from https://campustechnology.com/blended
Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2010, September). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-analysis and Review of Online-learning Studies. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf