Blended learning, defined as using online tools to support face-to-face instruction, is a popular term these days in education. It can represent a very wide spectrum of ideas from posting lecture materials online all the way to holding some of your classes online. There are many possible benefits to employing blended approaches and with growing pressures to offer more courses online, I think now would be a great time to start exploring.
If you are thinking of doing some blending, here are ideas of where you could begin:
- Post your course syllabus and lecture notes – or portions of notes – to your course’s Blackboard page.
- This will give you experience working within Blackboard in a simple way. Posting the lecture notes can also help to facilitate class discussion because students will be better able to focus on the lesson rather than writing.
- Along with your notes, you could also post to supporting videos or podcasts.
- If you can offload some of the more straightforward or mundane content from the course to outside of the class time, then you will have more time within class to engage students in discussion and other activities to support your lectures. This is commonly known as flipped teaching.
- Set up a discussion board for your course.
- It’s often hard to have as much discussion as we would like during class time. With online discussions, all students – even the shy ones – are given the chance to collect their thoughts and be involved in class discussion. This can be a great sharing of ideas and can also help build a greater sense of community within the course.
- Create a course wiki.
- If part of your course deals with knowledge-level content, you could set up a wiki along with questions related to the content. Assign students the task of inquiring, researching and then sharing their answers. This can replace the lectures when you are just telling the students about certain concepts. This can improve student engagement and accountability.
- If you are unfamiliar with Wikis, here is a short video that explains the basics.
These are just a few ideas of how to begin experimenting with blending your learning environment. If you are interested in doing one or more of these and don’t know where to begin, please contact us at the GMCTE and we can help get you started!