For anyone new to blended teaching and learning, it can be hard to know where to start. Many instructors might feel overwhelmed by the technology components that they envision as central to the modality. Others may not know how to transition an already existing course to have more elements online. Administrators may have questions about how best to support faculty as they engage in more blended teaching experiences.
I created The Blended Course Design Workbook: A Practical Guide to help instructors and administrators by providing a step-by-step process of creating a blended course that’s student-centered and designed using evidence-based best practices.
If you’re still on the fence about whether to dive in to blended course design, here are five important things to consider:
- We know it works. When designing a blended course, using evidence-based best practices is key. Several studies support the efficacy of blended learning when it is well-designed and student-centered. Some of the research has actually found better learning outcomes in blended environments when compared to face-to-face and fully online classes. All of this research is outlined in The Blended Course Design Workbook and each chapter also includes a literature overview for each topic in the book so you can be sure that your course is based on best practices that are supported by the most recent research on blended environments.
- It’s not just a trend. Although it can be tempting to “wait out” the latest technology-driven trends in higher education, it’s clear that blended learning is not a trend, but becoming the norm. Technology is now a part of our day-to-day lives, so it makes sense that we would incorporate it into our classrooms, and to aid our students learning, in intentional ways. That intentionality is key, and The Blended Course Design Workbook can help you to make choices about which technology tools to include in your course based on your intended outcomes, discipline, and your student audience.
- Alignment is key. One of the most challenging components, and one of the most crucial, for blended course design is the alignment between face-to-face and out of class activities. This alignment must be purposefully embedded through the creation of course outcomes, during assignment design, and while course mapping. Several activities in The Blended Course Design Workbook will walk you through the alignment process to ensure that you, and your students, know how the various elements of your course connect and build on one another in support of student learning.
- It’s not easier. Although some students might assume that a blended class is easier than face-to-face learning, for many that’s not the case. In fact, some students may find blended courses harder because of the time management skills, independent and autonomous thinking, and active engagement that is required for them to be successful. Also, because of the increased out-of-class work, there is a danger that students can more easily fall behind if they aren’t careful to complete their activities and assignments on time. Although creating an environment for student success is interwoven throughout The Blended Course Design Workbook, the final chapter includes specific methods to help prepare your students to do their best work in a blended classroom.
- The technology is not the most important part. While technology is certainly an important component of blended courses, the central element to keep in mind is student learning. The technology tools an instructor chooses to work with should always be selected for the purpose of aiding the course learning outcomes. If you’re nervous about the technology components, check around your campus to see who can help you. At the end of each chapter in The Blended Course Design Workbook, guiding questions will assist you in finding campus-specific resources that will enhance and strengthen your blended course design experience.
Creating a new blended course, or transitioning a face-to-face course to this new modality, doesn’t have to be a burden—in fact, it can be quite fun and invigorating! Having a step-by-step process to follow makes it easier to focus on the most important part of course design: student learning.
The Blended Course Design Workbook: A Practical Guide is all about helping instructors create the best learning experiences possible for their students. I hope you’ll check it out to see if it might be a helpful resource for you.
Coming November 2016
The Blended Course Design Workbook meets the need for a user-friendly resource that provides faculty members and administrators with instructions, activities, tools, templates, and deadlines to guide them through the process of revising their traditional face-to-face course into a blended format.
Kathryn E. Linder is the Research Director for Extended Campus at Oregon State University. Katie is also the author of Rampage Violence Narratives (2014). Some of her more recent journal publications can be found in Innovative Higher Education and the Journal of Open, Distance, and e-Learning.