Greetings everyone and welcome to today’s ELI web seminar. I’m Malcolm Brown, Director of ELI. And the ELI is particularly pleased to be able to welcome today’s seminar leader, Professor Patricia McGee. I’ll be introducing for Tricia in just a moment, but first let me give you a brief tour of our connect room here. So our virtual room, our learning space is sub divided into various windows, as you can see. Our presenter’s slides are now showing in the presentation window, which is the largest of the five. As we move through the presentation the slides and other presentation materials will advance through this window. Now the tall window on the left is the chat window and it serves as the chat common for all of us. We strongly encourage you to use it early and often, you can use the chat space to make comments, share resources or propose questions to our presenter.
To do so, simply type your message in the box at the bottom of the chat window and press return or click on the quote balloon icon just to the right of the box. This will send the text of your comment or question to all attendees. You may past URLs with it as links to resources you feel are relevant to our conversation today. You can also direct a comment to just a single individual but the process for doing so is slightly different. To do this find their name in the attendee list and allow your cursor to hover that person’s name. A menu of options should appear, choose the option to initiate a chat with that person. That person’s name will appear at the tab beneath the chat space, you can then direct additional messages to that individual, using that tab. We will be stopping for Q&A during the presentation and for some breaks. We encourage you to type your questions, as I said before, into the chat space as we proceed.
And now let’s turn to today’s seminar. At this point in time, it might seem that there is little left to stay about Blended Learning. It’s an established, mature course model; it might appear to be a simple reshuffling of the traditional course with some items exported to an online environment instead of face-to-face. But not so fast, according to today’s seminar leader. She cautions that there is more that meets the eye here as she writes “blended learning is more than simply a flip of the classroom because it requires careful planning and cautious implementation and may even be transformative for the instructor and learner.” Now we are very fortunate to have with us today one of the leading experts in the subject of Pedagogy in Blended Learning courses.
So it’s a great pleasure to welcome back Professor Patricia McGee. Patricia is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for the Digital Learning Design Program and the University of Texas at San Antonio. With over 20 years experience in Distance Learning, she has worked, taught, consulted, and researched in multiple sectors in the areas of online and Blended Learning with a particular emphasis on Pedagogy. She is a recipient of a United States Distance Learning Association Gold Award for Online Technology in Higher Education. Her most recent interests include story telling as an instructional method, pedagogical designs for blended learning, storytelling and informal learning through cloud based technology. Patricia holds a BA in Sociology and Art from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Masters and PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. Patricia, welcome and thanks for leading today’s seminar, please begin.
Hi everybody, I’m so glad to be here and talk to you this morning. If you have questions at any time please post them and I particularly want to make sure that I’m clear, speaking at a good level for you and that I don’t break up, so please let us know. So today, our overview, we’ll start with a general introduction kind of some background to where my research comes from. Talk to you a little bit about best practices and my research in that area, pedagogical practices and then preparing students. I have integrated breaks in here so when you start squirming just know there will be a break coming up just about every hour. I do want to say from the outset we have a lot of collected expertise in our audience today and so we have a great opportunity to learn from each other. I strongly encourage everyone to not just pose your questions but also your comments and contributions because I’m sure if you’re a part of this session today you have experiences with blended. Either on the side as a designer, an administrator, an instructor and I hope we even have a few students out there who’ve experienced blended learning.
So these are all things that I’m quite interested in myself. I want to see a lot of activity in that chat room. We’re going to start with a poll and our poll is asking you if you have a blended initiative in your institution. Is it an institutional process, priority is it at the college or school level in your academic area is it your department or your program or is it just at a course? Are you someone who’s just working at a course there’s no larger initiative. Alright it looks like we’ve got a little bit of everything. One person, two people, some people are just working at the course level, and most have some kind of institutional initiative so far. A good variety here, a few just to be a department, often time there are initiatives are aligned at the institutional and department or programmatic level. We have a little bit of everything. Alright, we have a little more than half of you responding but that gives us a good gel. It’s good to know that some of you are working at the course level.
For me I’ve actually been a part of each level. We see that there are a lot of instances of institutional initiatives and we’ll talk a little bit more about how these are addressed at different levels. Just briefly here then, I’m basically talking today over probably about five years of research that I’ve been doing in this area and I want to go through each piece of it so you’ll better understand kind of where I’m coming from and my perspective, because it’s clear that I’m coming from a very specific point of view. So, these are the five different areas that I’ve been looking at. The first was a meta-analysis of best practices, and this research was looking at publicly available or published literature about anything that said this is how you should design a blended course. And this meant printed books as well as online [PF] guides, a few institutionally sponsored websites about best practices. What we did in this meta-analysis for the best practices was that we looked and read over and over again encoded things that we began to see repeated.
What’s fascinating about the first study was that we found the same languages used in many of the published guides even if the sources were not referenced. Now they kind of indicate the uniformality in best practices although you kind of wonder where they come from. Then I started a meta-analysis specifically on pedagogy because one of the things I found from the best practices research was, there wasn’t a lot of information on how to create a blend. What’s really supposed to happen? And in fact, it almost looked like an online course or a course offered on campus using technology.
So for the pedagogical approach and I’ll answer your question in just a second, the pedagogical analysis was looking at literature that described what students did and what faculty did in blended environments. I will say that there is little discussion of what faculty member does in a blended environment. There’s quite a bit of what students do though. So we have a question, is your meta-analysis published? Can we get a copy or citation? Yes, you can, and I think possibly in the research I may have sited myself at least in the first one but sure I can share that with you, I’ll dig it up in a break. But the break practices I believe is in the journal of asynchronous learning networks, yes, I think that’s it. The third study was actually was an institutional study and we’re just putting that, just coming out with a book chapter. We used design based research as a methodology here and to those of you unfamiliar, this is an iterative research process in which members of a design team are collecting data, analyzing it and then making changes to the program as it unfolds.
I’ll talk a little bit more about our hybrid academy which is a summer academy. I’m not directly involved in it except as a researcher trying to keep outside of the environment. But our findings have been very informative; this is the beginning of the fourth year of the academy so we have quite a bit of interesting data collected. Then we also did a design based research study on orienting blended and online learners which is what I’m going to end up with today because this actually was an outcome of our – all of the research that there is an identified need to prepare learners for this special delivery mode. Finally, this is an ongoing project I’m doing, I’ll talk a little bit about in this first section which is I’m doing a content analysis of blended models. It’s fascinating to me how many papers there are out there and people referencing models of blended courses. Well, so far I’ve found 27 and they’re all very different, they are not very similar. I’m trying to figure out why they’re modeled and how they’re enacted, quite fascinating.
This is where the content I’m sharing with you comes today. I won’t be very academic about it but I will be presenting hopefully very useful information. We’ve got another poll for you if we can pull that poll up. I wanted you to think about your definition of blended and this is a breakdown from the percent of online and this is an important thing, most of the definitions speak to how much percent of time is spent online in the classroom. So, the numbers can vary all over the place and as I’m seeing they kind of do here. And if you have something else it’s very interesting, but typically it’s between 20% of the classroom up to 40% often times these definitions determine our resource allocation such as classroom space. If you for example I’m meeting 80% online then you may not have a classroom size of your class you may have a special room. I’m looking – yes, the percentage indicates online.
That’s very interesting phenomenon that I have found in the thousands of articles I’ve read that typically the focus is what happens online. Definitions vary about hybrid and blended, right, that’s exactly right. And I can speak to the difference between blended and hybrid, I did not include that in my presentation, I’m a little picky about that definition, looking at the poll, looks like most of us are between 50/50, 60/75, although it’s quite interesting that there’s such a range. I’m kind of curious if this is an institutional policy as well. We do have an institutional policy at my institution, it’s much broader, it’s the – they’re the ones that I shared with you here. We seem to be a bit of an anomaly, but again, I’m going to speak to that again, interesting.
For me, let me just stop for a minute and clarify my definition of blended versus hybrid, since somebody already brought that up. Hybrid for me is kind of turning on and off where things happen. So if you think of a hybrid car, you’re switching between one system delivery system and another without a real integration between the two. For me, blended is much more reflective of what we talk about when we’re talking about a course that’s divided between two modalities. We’re talking about something that is connected, one part is contingent upon and it’s integrated with the second part. There needs to be a blend for that to work effectively. I’m not saying hybrid can’t work, they certainly do work, but it’s a different way of thinking about it.
Well, read my paper, you’ll see that I say it quite a bit, and I’m not the first one to say it, but I think it’s a very important distinction when you’re planning a course particularly because it helps you think through, what is it I’m supposed to be doing here. So, most commonly we hear the definition as just a simple one that we’re doing something online and face to face but I think a more universal definition is one that says a substantial portion of the content is online. Important, important that we think about that the content is online typically were relying on some kind of discussion. Oh my goodness, discussions what would we do without them in an online course, you’d think there was nothing else to do, but this is typically what we see.
And in my – both of my most recent papers on pedagogy and best practices, what I found is, the definitions don’t vary too much they are somewhat interpretive and institutions have their own definitions. This is kind of a generic one, there is no clear cut and I’m not sure that there should be quite frankly. But I do think the institutions definition define them specifically or purposeful. For example our institution defines blended very specifically so that again like I said, reallocation of services and resources can be determined as we put forth what it is – how we’re teaching. I do want to say that there is a difference between a flipped classroom and a blended classroom. Flipped can be a blended course but it doesn’t have to be. Blended courses don’t have to be flipped so I would think flipped is kind of a subset of blended. I again have a lot to say about this but I’ll say just briefly that I think some flipped are blended but many flipped are since you’re reading outside of class and coming up and doing activities in class I think that’s fine and there’s nothing wrong with that but I don’t know that, that necessarily is what we are saying in the literature about what a blended course really is.
Another term I wanted to clarify here is pedagogy, yes, I’m pretty old here I’ve been around a while. I always liked the term pedagogy it’s definitely fallen out of vogue but originally from the original meaning of the Greek, it means to lead the learner. I think that’s very apt given our flipped, blended, MOOC, trended society in education. The idea of leading I think is important. So when I look at the literature I look at what the learner is doing and what we’re doing as educators, as designers, as administrators to lead the learner. That’s how I define pedagogy. What are the instructor and the learner doing? Not that one is in charge fully of one piece or the other, my definition of the word pedagogy.
I’d like to have a discussion now about what you see from your perspective as an instructor, instructional designer, as a dean, administrator, whatever your position is, what’s the appeal of blended to you? Start with the appeal, what do you like, why are you here, what is this about, why are you doing it because somebody told you to do it or because you saw something in it, access, providing students more opportunities. Wonderful way to think about how blended can provide something more to the student than they have now, where as our population’s changing and there are new needs that we didn’t have even ten years ago, definitely different expectations. Okay, I see a lot of typing going on so I’m hearing a lot of people have a lot of ideas. Can you have a blended or hybrid course where the face to face time is not reduced?
Well, I don’t think so but that’s part of the problem with the literature that I’ve found is that and you’ll see an example of this later is that it’s really hybrid, it’s a thorny issue. Okay, challenge, extending the classroom, flexibility, I’m assuming is an advantage, I wonder if no limit to search and find (inaudible) is an advantage. Rosemary was asked to do a job; faculty can use more interesting tools, more student engagement, optimizing class time, better use of [person] class time. Do we need to do the same thing one class at a time, giving students a variety of alternatives, looking for a global access, that’s a very interesting one because that kind of almost suggests that you’re thinking about a synchronicity given our challenge of time zones. I’m seeing some challenges in here too so let’s go ahead and pop some challenges in there.
Additional class time, a creditors value online, that’s a good one, [oh you Canadians] how interesting, thank you for sharing that. Get a broader audience; reach more people, using bet tools for the best outcomes, more students in the class, more seats, that’s kind of a challenging one because some of the best practices would suggest that we should limit the number of students in a blended course. That’s not of course the trend in MOOCs, challenges development of online materials not necessarily funded, it’s kind of an add-on. Difficulties identifying strategies for face to face and yes, particularly when we’re used to doing things in a certain way. Technology, oh yes, we spent some time before this session today talking about what we would do if something went wrong, the technology didn’t work, going from teacher centered to student centered.
Are we ready for that? There’s a lot of different things, I think the literature would say a lot of different, some of which you’ve already said but some things like saving costs, costs save, reducing class space, institutional resources by shifting to online mode. Helping students to be more responsible, more autonomous, faculty are not prepared, are any of us ready to do this, is it a good fit for the course, that’s another challenge, can all courses be blended? It’s been interesting to see who has participated in our own academy and we’ve had just about everybody, including lab courses participate.
One another challenge is that we can develop a course and a half. There’s a tend to focus on one mode or another; there’s also a challenge of technical reliance and support. Who’s going to support the learner when they get stuck on Saturday night and they can’t figure out how to take the quiz or the quiz breaks? And I think it’s challenging just to embrace a different design. Right, none of us are really taught how to teach in higher ed anyway unless you’re in a college of education, how do we learn how to teach? Well, it was typically we probably did what other people – how other people taught us, it’s different. What are we going to do? Well, what I want to start with here, I think these are all very legitimate, yes I know, look at that, we have as many appealing things as we do challenges. I want to start here with a workforce kind of blended hybrid model because I think these give us some ideas and broader our definition to think a little differently about what it might mean to be blended and hybrid.
Because guess what, many of us have been doing it in some form or fashion. So all the workforce definitions, they are just two distinct methods of instruction. If we think about it as instruction as opposed to delivery then we can think about what we typically think about the classroom and online but also things like independent study, or simulation with structured classes where a lot of the interactions happening online we’re practicing authentic kinds of behaviors interacting with other people. On the job training is really a form of blended learning, such as internships, this is what we do right? Managerial coaching and e-learning, things like practicums, even if we don’t teach a course that would fit into one of these, they are kind of interesting to think about it could we reconfigure a course so that it could fit one of these types of models? Well, very possibly we could. In higher education however, we see very different types of models and these fall into different categories. I’m going to share three with you but I’d like to hear your comments as we go through each of these.
So, let’s start with the first one, it’s just one you may have heard of before, but just the high flex model. A high flex model was developed at San Francisco State University by Beatty and he, and if you’ve heard of this model, or have used it, please feel free to speak up and share your experience or examples that you might have. The idea that is there’s one course offered and students make a choice, they’re taking it online, they’re taking it on face to face; they can choose how they want to participate. So that they may meet in any combination of online or face to face. Now typically there’s a limit to face to face so you wouldn’t necessarily meet every week for example for an undergraduate course, there would be some meeting all week offered online, but students have a choice to meet partially online or not. Now they have to make a choice, the student makes the choice of which option. I do a high flex course and actually I’m shifting more of my courses to a high flex model particularly for my graduate classes.
This is how it’s working for me, I give them three options, options A, B and C. they choose which option that they want and then stick with it through the entire semester. For example, in the course I’m thinking about at the moment where I offered this, the choice A is attending all class campus based meetings. This is a commitment they make, when they make that commitment they are excused from some online activities like the weekly discussions. They participate in the discussions in class, now we don’t meet every week, but they do spend the class discussing as opposed to discussing online. Choice B is usually a combination of where students commit to coming to one face to face a month and then participate online and then choice three is 100% asynchronous. They have a whole different set of activities with some overlap.
So that while this takes some thought to set up, a lot of the students are still participating in all of the activities and assignments they need to, to complete the course, just in different variations. It’s interesting to me, good question, Colorado College, so far in my experience, I’ve been working on this for about three years and again I’m just using it at graduate, I haven’t taken the whole jump into undergraduate. It is fewer students who do the 100% online. One thing I have found in our population with online courses is that students have very specific expectation about online courses that many of them expect all of the experience to be asynchronous. So for my choice C students who take the course100% online, they can participate asynchronously, there’s no synchronous and/or action at all, very specific. I’m not sure that would work for everybody but it is a requirement that our students seem to have, I’m not sure where that came from. The bulk of them remarkably want to come to class.
So I would say that choice B, the combination is the smallest number that I have, but this is just our population. I have not seen, Malcolm good question, I have not seen a difference in performance. If I wanted to give you some anecdotal comments to Carrie here, I would say that my classroom students tend to procrastinate because they think they’re going to come to class and get all the answers. But I think that the truly blended, the middle mix, the B mix are the ones that may drop out quicker if they do at all. I don’t have a high attrition rate but that does happen. Do I have them sign a learning contract? I don’t have them sign a contract per say, they make a public declaration, I am a big user of Google Docs, personally and I know in the high flex model the institutions that use this, the professors who do, they often do have a contract that spells out each one. I just make my students sign up on a Google document at the beginning of the semester which one they’ll follow. Additionally every learning module that I create in my course management in my system has instructions for each choice. It seems kind of laboursome, but after you’ve done it once, it’s really not. It’s just a little tough initially.
Well, these are graduate classes so again, they’re not as big so they’re limited to 30 students and I typically get 30, yes. I know that other institutions have do it – use it with the larger classes, for example there’s Herkimer County Community College, they use high flex very differently across it. And they’re big users of it; they take introductory psychology courses to get the chance to get the high flex and team teaching which is how one delivery model works. So that given the choices, like I just gave you three choices I use, they may have only two choices, there may be more than one professor teaching a different section, but the joint sections get to meet together.