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Dec 17, 2014

Three Key Principles for Designing Effective Blended Courses

“Over the past 10 years, blended learning has matured, evolved, and become more widely adopted by institutions of all types. This evolution of the instructional model…have opened new possibilities for curriculum design, especially the ability to design a course that uniquely blends face-to-face (F2F) and online interaction, allowing institutions to address learners’ specific needs and customize the learning environment rather than rely on a one-size-fits-all approach.” — 2010 EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Report

While definitions may vary, blended courses are typically characterized by a 30%–70% reduction in class time, with instructional activities being shifted online and in either asynchronous or synchronous formats. (This is different from “flipped classrooms,” which shift lectures/instruction to an online environment without any reduction in classroom time.)

Instructors interested in redesigning their traditional face-to-face (F2F) classes for blended delivery may find the process overwhelming. Where do you start? What activities happen when? Will students learn what they need to learn? Below are three guiding principles for getting started with designing effective blended courses.

  1. Set the Rhythm of the Course: Effectively designed blended courses go beyond the superficial add-on of non-F2F components into the traditional F2F course structure. There should be a natural rhythm between in-class and out-of-class components, each complementary and synced with one another. For example, a Tuesday/Thursday course that keeps only the Tuesday session in-class should be redesigned so that activities for the Thursday online session will build on what happened the previous Tuesday and previews what is to come the following Tuesday.

  2. Differentiate Content from Mode: When designing blended courses, it is critical to differentiate content (i.e., instructional materials such as readings, lectures, assignments, etc.) from mode (i.e., the method through which content is delivered, such as textbooks, videos, discussion boards, etc.). Doing so will allow instructors to determine what is the optimal mode to deliver specific types of content. For example, while lecture content can be delivered either in-class and/or online, a faculty wanting rich interaction might opt for in-class lecture, incorporating student engagement activities such as clickers or peer-instruction.

  3. Define When Learning Happens: Since blended courses reduce in-class time, it is important to plan what learning happens when. Typically, any learning that benefits from the immediate feedback of the faculty and that requires social/emotional connections among learners is better done synchronously in-class or through web-conferencing. All other learning (e.g., homework exercises, reading, discussion forum, etc.) can be delivered asynchronously online.

Designing an effective blended course can take up to six months of planning and preparation, so give yourself some time and be patient. As with any new approach to teaching, the key is to gather feedback, make adjustments, and redeploy. An easy way to do this is to ask your students to provide feedback at key intervals during the course, and use the feedback to make adjustments for the next round.

Resources:

  • Diaz, V. and Brown, M. (2010 November 15). “Blended Learning: A Report on the ELI Focus Session.” EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/blended-learning-report-eli-focus-session on May 26, 2014.
  • Glazer, F. S., Ed. (2012). Blended Learning: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy. Herndon, VA: Stylus Publishing.
  • Stein, J. and Graham, C. (2014). Essentials for Blended Learning: A Standards-Based Guide. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • University of Central Florida (UCF) and American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). “BlendKit Course. Blended Learning Toolkit.” Retrieved from http://blended.online.ucf.edu/blendkit-course/ on May 26, 2014.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Contributor:
Mike Truong, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Office of Innovative Teaching and Technology
Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
Azusa Pacific University
mtruong@apu.edu
http://www.apu.edu/itt

Author: francine_glazer

Dec 10, 2014

Building Professor-Student Relationships in an Age of Social Networking

The influence of teacher-student relationships on the quality of teaching and learning is well-documented (Klem & Connell, 2004; National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE], 2012; Rigsbee, 2010). Especially at the college level, rapport between professors and students is likely to increase student learning because students feel valued, more comfortable expressing their feelings, and more willing to be intellectually challenged (Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence, 2012).

But college students are changing. Research shows that Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1999, prefer a variety of active learning activities, seek relevance so they can apply what they are learning, want to know the rationale behind course requirements, and desire a “laid back” learning environment in which they can informally interact with the professor and each other (Bart, 2011). Most significantly, “Millennials…are more willing to pursue learning outcomes when instructors connect with them on a personal level” (para. 5).

Use of technology, especially social networking, has been shown to influence professor-student relationships. Today’s college students use social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) most often to connect with friends and family (89%) and to a lesser degree for educational purposes such as planning study sessions (28%), completing assignments and projects (33%), and communicating with faculty or advisors (15%) (NSSE, 2012). It appears that many of today’s professors are responding in kind: “More than half of the students who interacted with faculty or advisors through social media had two-way communications with them” (p. 18).

While some believe that virtual interactions between students and their professors nurtures the professor-student relationship, one recent study reports that 40% of college students and 30% of faculty believe it is inappropriate for professors to interact with students on social networking sites (Malesky & Peters, 2012). Wilkinson and Milbourne (in press) explain that college students’ prolific social networking habits lead to perceived intimacy in which they experience false feelings of closeness with others and expect everyone – including their professors – to be accessible and responsive 24/7. Such misguided feelings and expectations can eradicate professional boundaries and “demote” professors from their status as authority figures to the perceived status of peer or even service worker (Gangnon & Milbourne, 2014).

So how can college professors establish an effective balance between authority and a relationship with their students? Stewart (2009) suggests that professors first maintain academic standards “even if it means [students] must sometimes move outside their comfort zones and we must move outside ours” (p. 117). Following are a few suggestions for establishing authority and professional boundaries while still maintaining professor-student relationships characterized by warmth and friendliness:

  1. Model professionalism in your face-to-face interactions with students. If your students perceive you as an authority figure, they will treat you with respect. Dress professionally, expect your students to address you formally (e.g., Dr. Smith, Mrs. Jones), and use professional language. With that said, you don’t have to be stuffy. A sense of humor and “being yourself” can go a long way with college students!
  2. Be prepared and well-organized. Your students will feel reassured knowing they can trust you to lead them through the semester without vague information or last minute changes. To prevent misunderstandings, alleviate student stress, and avoid conflict, post everything students will need to be successful in your course (e.g., course policies, weekly schedule, PowerPoints, handouts, assignment directions, etc.) in a timely manner, if not by the first day of class.
  3. Provide a rationale and maintain some degree of flexibility. We all appreciate understanding why things are the way they are. Clearly explain the reasoning behind your course policies, objectives guiding class assignments and activities, etc. On those occasions when students question, resist, or respond unenthusiastically, either review your rationale or consider making revisions. Even minor revisions based on student responses are likely to build professor-student rapport.
  4. Establish clear expectations for outside of class communication. As the old saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. Let your students know how you prefer to be contacted (e.g., phone, e-mail, etc.), specify when you will hold office hours and respond to e-mail, and clearly state “off limits” modes of contact (e.g., no texting). If a student contacts you via text message when you’ve asked your class not to, maintain your boundary by not responding.
  5. Model professionalism through your virtual interactions with students. Your written word is an extension of your actual self. In addition to using professional written language, share information appropriately (i.e., nothing too personal) and never use virtual communication to chastise or discipline. Begin each message with a greeting and end with a closing to maintain some level of formality. Always check for grammar and spelling and always proofread your entire message for tone before hitting the send button!
  6. Get to know your students, but maintain professional distance. Once you know your students’ names – and pronounce their names correctly – you can begin getting to know them as people. But don’t get to know them too personally. Converse with them about their families, their jobs, their thinking and experiences related to your course/discipline, and their future plans, but leave the rest of their lives to them. There is no need to know about their love relationships, drinking habits, or personal problems. They do not need to know these details about your life either. Avoid friending your students on Facebook until they’ve graduated, and never, ever read Rate My Professor.com!

Resources:

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Contributor:
Jana Hunzicker, Ed.D.
Executive Director, Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning
Bradley University, Peoria, IL
jhunzicker@fsmail.bradley.edu

Author: francine_glazer

Dec 09, 2014

Building Professor-Student Relationships in an Age of Social Networking

The influence of teacher-student relationships on the quality of teaching and learning is well-documented (Klem & Connell, 2004; National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE], 2012; Rigsbee, 2010). Especially at the college level, rapport between professors and students is likely to increase student learning because students feel valued, more comfortable expressing their feelings, and more willing to be intellectually challenged (Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence, 2012).

But college students are changing. Research shows that Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1999, prefer a variety of active learning activities, seek relevance so they can apply what they are learning, want to know the rationale behind course requirements, and desire a “laid back” learning environment in which they can informally interact with the professor and each other (Bart, 2011). Most significantly, “Millennials…are more willing to pursue learning outcomes when instructors connect with them on a personal level” (para. 5).

Use of technology, especially social networking, has been shown to influence professor-student relationships. Today’s college students use social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) most often to connect with friends and family (89%) and to a lesser degree for educational purposes such as planning study sessions (28%), completing assignments and projects (33%), and communicating with faculty or advisors (15%) (NSSE, 2012). It appears that many of today’s professors are responding in kind: “More than half of the students who interacted with faculty or advisors through social media had two-way communications with them” (p. 18).

While some believe that virtual interactions between students and their professors nurtures the professor-student relationship, one recent study reports that 40% of college students and 30% of faculty believe it is inappropriate for professors to interact with students on social networking sites (Malesky & Peters, 2012). Wilkinson and Milbourne (in press) explain that college students’ prolific social networking habits lead to perceived intimacy in which they experience false feelings of closeness with others and expect everyone – including their professors – to be accessible and responsive 24/7. Such misguided feelings and expectations can eradicate professional boundaries and “demote” professors from their status as authority figures to the perceived status of peer or even service worker (Gangnon & Milbourne, 2014).

So how can college professors establish an effective balance between authority and a relationship with their students? Stewart (2009) suggests that professors first maintain academic standards “even if it means [students] must sometimes move outside their comfort zones and we must move outside ours” (p. 117). Following are a few suggestions for establishing authority and professional boundaries while still maintaining professor-student relationships characterized by warmth and friendliness:

  1. Model professionalism in your face-to-face interactions with students. If your students perceive you as an authority figure, they will treat you with respect. Dress professionally, expect your students to address you formally (e.g., Dr. Smith, Mrs. Jones), and use professional language. With that said, you don’t have to be stuffy. A sense of humor and “being yourself” can go a long way with college students!
  2. Be prepared and well-organized. Your students will feel reassured knowing they can trust you to lead them through the semester without vague information or last minute changes. To prevent misunderstandings, alleviate student stress, and avoid conflict, post everything students will need to be successful in your course (e.g., course policies, weekly schedule, PowerPoints, handouts, assignment directions, etc.) in a timely manner, if not by the first day of class.
  3. Provide a rationale and maintain some degree of flexibility. We all appreciate understanding why things are the way they are. Clearly explain the reasoning behind your course policies, objectives guiding class assignments and activities, etc. On those occasions when students question, resist, or respond unenthusiastically, either review your rationale or consider making revisions. Even minor revisions based on student responses are likely to build professor-student rapport.
  4. Establish clear expectations for outside of class communication. As the old saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. Let your students know how you prefer to be contacted (e.g., phone, e-mail, etc.), specify when you will hold office hours and respond to e-mail, and clearly state “off limits” modes of contact (e.g., no texting). If a student contacts you via text message when you’ve asked your class not to, maintain your boundary by not responding.
  5. Model professionalism through your virtual interactions with students. Your written word is an extension of your actual self. In addition to using professional written language, share information appropriately (i.e., nothing too personal) and never use virtual communication to chastise or discipline. Begin each message with a greeting and end with a closing to maintain some level of formality. Always check for grammar and spelling and always proofread your entire message for tone before hitting the send button!
  6. Get to know your students, but maintain professional distance. Once you know your students’ names – and pronounce their names correctly – you can begin getting to know them as people. But don’t get to know them too personally. Converse with them about their families, their jobs, their thinking and experiences related to your course/discipline, and their future plans, but leave the rest of their lives to them. There is no need to know about their love relationships, drinking habits, or personal problems. They do not need to know these details about your life either. Avoid friending your students on Facebook until they’ve graduated, and never, ever read Rate My Professor.com!

Resources:

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Contributor:
Jana Hunzicker, Ed.D.
Executive Director, Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning
Bradley University, Peoria, IL
jhunzicker@fsmail.bradley.edu

Author: francine_glazer

Dec 09, 2014

Building Professor-Student Relationships in an Age of Social Networking

The influence of teacher-student relationships on the quality of teaching and learning is well-documented (Klem & Connell, 2004; National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE], 2012; Rigsbee, 2010). Especially at the college level, rapport between professors and students is likely to increase student learning because students feel valued, more comfortable expressing their feelings, and more willing to be intellectually challenged (Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence, 2012).

But college students are changing. Research shows that Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1999, prefer a variety of active learning activities, seek relevance so they can apply what they are learning, want to know the rationale behind course requirements, and desire a “laid back” learning environment in which they can informally interact with the professor and each other (Bart, 2011). Most significantly, “Millennials…are more willing to pursue learning outcomes when instructors connect with them on a personal level” (para. 5).

Use of technology, especially social networking, has been shown to influence professor-student relationships. Today’s college students use social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) most often to connect with friends and family (89%) and to a lesser degree for educational purposes such as planning study sessions (28%), completing assignments and projects (33%), and communicating with faculty or advisors (15%) (NSSE, 2012). It appears that many of today’s professors are responding in kind: “More than half of the students who interacted with faculty or advisors through social media had two-way communications with them” (p. 18).

While some believe that virtual interactions between students and their professors nurtures the professor-student relationship, one recent study reports that 40% of college students and 30% of faculty believe it is inappropriate for professors to interact with students on social networking sites (Malesky & Peters, 2012). Wilkinson and Milbourne (in press) explain that college students’ prolific social networking habits lead to perceived intimacy in which they experience false feelings of closeness with others and expect everyone – including their professors – to be accessible and responsive 24/7. Such misguided feelings and expectations can eradicate professional boundaries and “demote” professors from their status as authority figures to the perceived status of peer or even service worker (Gangnon & Milbourne, 2014).

So how can college professors establish an effective balance between authority and a relationship with their students? Stewart (2009) suggests that professors first maintain academic standards “even if it means [students] must sometimes move outside their comfort zones and we must move outside ours” (p. 117). Following are a few suggestions for establishing authority and professional boundaries while still maintaining professor-student relationships characterized by warmth and friendliness:

  1. Model professionalism in your face-to-face interactions with students. If your students perceive you as an authority figure, they will treat you with respect. Dress professionally, expect your students to address you formally (e.g., Dr. Smith, Mrs. Jones), and use professional language. With that said, you don’t have to be stuffy. A sense of humor and “being yourself” can go a long way with college students!
  2. Be prepared and well-organized. Your students will feel reassured knowing they can trust you to lead them through the semester without vague information or last minute changes. To prevent misunderstandings, alleviate student stress, and avoid conflict, post everything students will need to be successful in your course (e.g., course policies, weekly schedule, PowerPoints, handouts, assignment directions, etc.) in a timely manner, if not by the first day of class.
  3. Provide a rationale and maintain some degree of flexibility. We all appreciate understanding why things are the way they are. Clearly explain the reasoning behind your course policies, objectives guiding class assignments and activities, etc. On those occasions when students question, resist, or respond unenthusiastically, either review your rationale or consider making revisions. Even minor revisions based on student responses are likely to build professor-student rapport.
  4. Establish clear expectations for outside of class communication. As the old saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. Let your students know how you prefer to be contacted (e.g., phone, e-mail, etc.), specify when you will hold office hours and respond to e-mail, and clearly state “off limits” modes of contact (e.g., no texting). If a student contacts you via text message when you’ve asked your class not to, maintain your boundary by not responding.
  5. Model professionalism through your virtual interactions with students. Your written word is an extension of your actual self. In addition to using professional written language, share information appropriately (i.e., nothing too personal) and never use virtual communication to chastise or discipline. Begin each message with a greeting and end with a closing to maintain some level of formality. Always check for grammar and spelling and always proofread your entire message for tone before hitting the send button!
  6. Get to know your students, but maintain professional distance. Once you know your students’ names – and pronounce their names correctly – you can begin getting to know them as people. But don’t get to know them too personally. Converse with them about their families, their jobs, their thinking and experiences related to your course/discipline, and their future plans, but leave the rest of their lives to them. There is no need to know about their love relationships, drinking habits, or personal problems. They do not need to know these details about your life either. Avoid friending your students on Facebook until they’ve graduated, and never, ever read Rate My Professor.com!

Resources:
* Bart, M. (2011, November 16). The five r’s of engaging millennial students. Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Strategies from Magna Publications. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/the-five-rs-of-engaging-millennial-students/
* Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence (2012). Connecting with your students. Retrieved from http://www.cte.cornell.edu/teaching-ideas/building-inclusive-classrooms/connecting-with-your-students.html#impact
* Gangnon, B., & Milbourne, C. (2014). Dear barista: Professors as members of the service class. Paper presented at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Urbana-Champaign, IL.
* Klem, A. M., & Connell, J. P. (2004). Relationships matter: Linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 262–273.
* Malesky, L. A., & Peters, C. (2012). Defining appropriate professional behavior for faculty and university students on social networking websites. Higher Education, 63, 135–151.
* National Survey of Student Engagement. (2012). Promoting Student Learning and Institutional Improvement: Lessons from NSSE at 13. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED537442.pdf
* Rigsbee, C. (2010, June). The relationship balance. Educational Leadership, 67. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/summer10/vol67/num09/The-Relationship-Balance.aspx
* Stewart, K. (2009). Lessons from teaching millennials. College Teaching, 57(2), 111–117.
* Wilkinson, J. S., & Milbourne, C. C. (in press). Effects of social networking: Accessibility, immediacy, perceived intimacy. Manuscript submitted for publication.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Contributor:
Jana Hunzicker, Ed.D.
Executive Director, Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning
Bradley University, Peoria, IL
jhunzicker@fsmail.bradley.edu

Author: francine_glazer

Dec 03, 2014

Identifying Pearls of Wisdom from End-of-Semester Course Evaluations

At the end of the semester it can be valuable to take a few moments and reflect on what went well in your courses, and what you might want to change the next time you teach them. One source of information is the student evaluations of teaching, available to you after you submit your final grades.

Yes, response rate could be lower than you’d like, and anonymous comments might be dreadful. However, many students do put in some careful thoughts when filling out the course evaluations – which they do while staying up late studying for exams. Here are some steps you can take to find the pearls of wisdom:

  1. Spend a few minutes and think about:
    1. What went well, for both the students and you, as intended? How?
    2. What could have gone better, for both the students and you? How?
    3. What would you like to change next time around? Why?
  2. Dreadful feedback: read, ponder and put aside.
  3. Pearls of Wisdom:
    1. Look for strengths and areas of improvements
    2. Categorize them
    3. Match them against the list you developed in Step #1
  4. Develop an action plan:
    1. List the strengths you are going to maintain
    2. List one or two things you will adjust/change/modify
  5. Work with a couple of colleagues, or consult with staff at the Center for Teaching and Learning: fresh eyes bring new perspectives.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Resources:

Contributor:
Judy C. K. Chan, Ph. D.
Educational Developer | Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Faculty/CTLT Liaison | Faculty of Land and Food Systems
The University of British Columbia | Vancouver
Judy.chan@ubc.ca

Author: francine_glazer

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Major: Interior Design, B.F.A.
Class Of: 2015