Designing and Teaching Blended Courses
When online teaching and learning technologies are used to replace some in-class time in an on-campus course—reducing the actual “seat time” spent in the classroom—the result is a blended or hybrid course (the terms are used interchangeably).
Designing a Blended Course at RIT
- Request a meeting with a TLS Instructional Designer to discuss your course redesign ideas, tour a few blended courses, and coordinate any technical training.
- Inform your department head that you’ll be offering a blended course. He or she will inform the department’s scheduling officer so it can be tagged as a blended course in SIS.
- When your myCourses course shell becomes available to students one week before the start of the term, email a welcome message that introduces them to the course and to the blended learning experience. Post the same message in the myCourses News area.
- Ensure that all videos and other audio materials are closed-captioned and comply with RIT’s accessibility policy.
- Regardless of how classroom and online activities are scheduled, the class should meet the regular, announced class time during the drop-add period.
- Include a statement in the syllabus—or in myCourses—providing a clear and compelling rationale for employing a blended course format, such as:
- Giving students more time to reflect upon and refer to relevant materials when researching, writing, and by responding online compared to interacting in the classroom
- Helping students acquire important skills by using myCourses and other web-based communication technologies that may prove useful in the workplace and lifelong learning
- Enabling greater time flexibility, freedom, and convenience—including reduced commuting
- On the first day of class, give your students a comprehensive overview of all assignments and assessments, as well as a complete calendar with all due dates. You can do this in the myCourses Calendar. You can still develop and post online discussion questions week-by-week.
When designing a blended course:
- Use consistent instructions so students know where to go and what to do.
- Clearly state netiquette expectations for online discussions and email.
- Make sure that students understand the learning objectives of the course.
- Develop a grading scheme that corresponds to the amount of work required or expected; if online discussion takes up 20% of the students’ time, it should be worth 20% of the final grade
- Help students understand how to meet the learning objectives; for example, provide a grading rubric for online discussions
- Integrate face-to-face and online assignments and activities into a cohesive learning environment.
- Select types of assignments and assessments that are appropriate for the blended learning environment
Facilitating a Blended Course
- Answer questions and provide feedback on student assignments in a timely manner.
- Give students the opportunity to provide course feedback at mid-term, not just at the end of the course.
- Even if everyone students introduce themselves in first class—which can be difficult in larger classes—ask students to post a substantial self-introduction in myCourses. Respond to each student’s introduction with a warm “welcome to the course” message.
- To facilitate out-of-class interaction, and cut down on student emails to you, create and moderate a Questions About the Course discussion topic. Like email and office hours, let students know when you’ll be checking and not checking this area.
- Track online participation to draw “wallflowers” into the discussions; encourage laggards with email reminders.
- Inform students of your expected presence in the online discussion, such as whether you’ll respond to each student post (except for introductions, neither helpful nor feasible), a select number of posts, or provide a commentary or summary of all posts over the discussion period.