Blended courses replace part of the “seat time” with “online time” - anywhere from 30 - 80%. The immediacy of anytime-anywhere learning, combined with the structure of regular face-to-face meetings, can be a powerful way to learn. In fact, there’s good evidence that blended courses, when properly designed, can be even more effective than traditional face-to-face courses (DOE, 2010).
There are many different ways to design an effective blended course. In the recent online workshop about Learning Spaces, Nick Bloom (Associate Professor, Social Sciences) described a strategy he has used successfully:
“Here is a personal approach that takes a good bit of preparation, but once in place, is both very effective and easy to maintain. In essence, one is creating a ”multi-media textbook“ that can be renewed and updated every semester. I use this method for humanities/urban studies type classes. It can even be shared with other instructors teaching the course by cloning it into their blackboard ”shells."
"The process begins with the development of a recorded lecture series I have created using Camtasia (but any screen capture technology will do–Powerpoint, Zoom, etc.). These screencasts are then linked in Blackboard by week/theme. Here is one of my lectures (works best in Safari or Explorer: you may need to right click and save): http://iris.nyit.edu/~nbloom/ManchesterThenandNow.mp4. I have prepped over 50 of these lectures over the years and they are stored on the NYIT Iris site. They can be added and created at any point before, during, or after the semester.
"Here is what a student’s workload in my typical class looks like:
EVERY WEEK: Independently watch an MP4 lecture video, linked multi-media, or even Netflix documentary. Read the accompanying pdf file.
In-class quick quiz on the assigned materials (10 minutes max, basic questions seeing if they have reviewed the material: part of participation grade)
Class (1.5 hours) is a detailed discussion of SELECTED and COMPLEX topics from the videos/reading. Almost no traditional lecturing at all, or maybe a mini-lecture on related topic. I find that students need this class time to clarify many issues which are quickly discussed in screen capture lectures, a film, etc. It is also a good time to challenge them about what they think of the materials. We always sit in circles, even larger classes.
After class, students complete a detailed set of Blackboard questions about the lecture, class discussion, etc. They usually have 2–3 days to complete these. I use SafeAssign to check for plagiarism, or you can also use Turnitin. Students quickly learn to not cheat. I formerly had students complete these detailed question sets before class, but the quality of answers is so much better after a class discussion that I switched despite the greater uniformity of responses.
“Some students find the weekly work overwhelming, but most good students like the mix of in-class discussion plus assigned multi-media. Students from abroad like the videos and ask for more of them so that they can slowly review them.”
Summer Book Club
Are you interested in learning more ways to blend a course? Join your colleagues and the CTL staff in our first summer book club! Here’s how it works: Once you let us know you’re interested, we will send you a copy of this summer’s book, Blended Learning: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy. The book is yours to keep. We’ll each read the book independently over the summer, and then convene over lunch early in the fall semester for a conversation about it.
Register for the book club at by completing the online form at: http://bit.ly/SummerBookClub2014
Nicholas Dagen Bloom, PhD
Associate Professor, Social Sciences
New York Institute of Technology