Faculty members interested in developing or redesigning a blended course or program have many resources available to get started with planning, design, instruction and assessment. The following resources and tools are available to any college or department seeking support with blended and online education at UIC.
Blended education at UIC consists of both blended courses and blended programs. Below are the definitions for both a blended course and blended program at UIC. For more definitions regarding online education at UIC, please refer to the “UIC Online Education Glossary of Terms”.
Blended Course (also known as “hybrid course”): Integrates online with traditional face-to-face classroom activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner where 25 - 74% of instruction occurs online.
Blended Program (also known as “hybrid program”): (1) A series of modules or credit courses offered for degree or credit through a combination of fully online, blended and face-to face courses. (2) A non-credit instructional offering in which instruction and course material is delivered integrating face-to-face and online activities. Blended programs offer 25 - 74% of coursework online.
Housed in Academic Affairs, External Education (ExEd) provides support for online programs and courses at UIC. ExEd assists with the development of online programs, including budgeting, instructional design for both online and blended courses, marketing and enrollment management support.
ExEd has an Instructional Design Team consisting of a Senior Instructional Designer, a Technologist and an Editor who can assist faculty members with course redesign for both blended and online courses. Using a team approach, ExEd partners with UIC's Instructional Technology Lab (ITL) to identify the best technology solutions for developing and designing blended and online courses.
Hands-On Workshops / Meetings for Faculty
ExEd has developed a series of workshops to prepare and support faculty in designing and teaching online courses. Topics focus on online teaching strategies, learning technologies and course redesign. Practical pedagogy, what works and what does not, is highlighted. The workshops also focus on how to accomplish course goals and objectives effectively using a combination of online learning activities, materials and assessments.
UIC's e-Teaching Symposium is designed to provide resources to those working in virtual learning environments. The purpose of the symposium is to support UIC faculty, adjunct instructors and teaching assistants who are designing and teaching technology-enhanced, blended and online courses. It is also intended to serve as a resource for those interested in the instructional and pedagogical considerations important to online and blended learning.
Online Instructional Tool for Adjuncts
An instructional tool, AIM (Adjunct Instructor Modules), for adjunct instructors and graduate assistants teaching online is available. AIM provides an overview of online learning and teaching, familiarizes users with the virtual teaching environment and introduces the key elements of a blended and online course.
Pedagogy and Technology: Online and Blended Instruction
How better to learn about online and blended instruction than participate in a blended course yourself? Join External Education and fellow UIC faculty for a one-week course and explore:
- Designing and delivering effective online discussions
- Collaborating with blogs
- Using authentic assessments
- Working in Blackboard
Led by Anne France and Karin Riggs, this course offers participants an opportunity to learn more about the effective uses of pedagogy and technology in the design and development of online and blended courses. Participants should expect to spend 15-18 hours on course-related activities throughout the week.
- Plan Ahead
Things always seem to take longer than you expect. Start your redesign efforts three or four months in advance of the semester you would like to teach online. Be prepared to make changes as you go along.
- Think Iterative
A redesign is a process. When you first offer a redesigned course try one or two new things, see how they work out and reevaluate and redesign again before the next course offering.
- Focus on Design Principles and Not Technology
Don’t get overwhelmed or confused by what technology can do or whether you are comfortable with technology. Technology tools can be used to make the online experience that you want. The design should lead your use of technology, not the other way around. The most important thing to do when redesigning a course is to re-examine the course goals and then stick to them. For example, if you find yourself struggling with a technology that is supposed to help students present online, ask yourself how the presentation is promoting the achievement of the course goals.
- Set Student Expectations
Students want to succeed in the blended learning environment. The best way to help them achieve this is to tell them exactly what you expect. Students will want to know how and when to participate online, when to come to class, and how to prepare for exams. It is important to communicate in writing in your course exactly what is expected of your students. How often should they log into the course? What makes a valuable contribution to the discussion board?
- Keep it Organized
Students want to follow a simple and logical flow of information. They need to know where to start and where to go from there. The menu items you offer your students should be meaningful and relevant. If you never ask students to contribute to a class WIKI in your blended course, do not offer that menu item (it will just confuse students). If you do want students to review PowerPoint presentations, offer a menu item called “PowerPoints” or “Presentations,” not “Lectures.” Students think of lectures as what they attend in the face-to-face environment.
- Ask for Help
Talk with other instructors who have taught blended courses. Share your ideas with fellow instructors who have taught similar topics. Work with the Instructional Design Team available through UIC Online.
- Don’t Overdo it
Because instructors cannot physically see their students engaged in the course content remotely, redesigns often include much more work for the student and the faculty than is required in a face-to-face course. Do not design a course that will greatly increase your work load or the work of the students. The most important thing is that students achieve the stated learning outcomes, not that they spend hours and hours in front of their computer.
- Lead by Example
Your presentation of the blended course should be professional and serve as a model for students on how you would like them to communicate within your class. For example, if you would like students to use MLA style citations, you should provide your text citation in your syllabus in the MLA style. If you count spelling errors and typos when you grade a paper, you should not have any in your online presentation to your students.
To be successful, a blended course requires careful pedagogical redesign. These ten questions offer you a way to start thinking about some of these design issues.
1. What do you want students to know when they have finished taking your blended or online course?
2. As you think about learning objectives, which would be better achieved online and which would be best achieved face-to-face?
3. Blended or online teaching is not just a matter of transferring a portion of your traditional course to the Web. Instead, it involves developing challenging and engaging online learning activities that complement your face-to-face activities. What types of learning activities do you think you will be using for the online portion of your course?
4. Online asynchronous discussion is often an important part of blended or online courses. What new learning opportunities will arise as a result of using asynchronous discussion? What challenges do you anticipate in using online discussions? How would you address these?
5. How will the face-to-face and time out of class components be integrated into a single course? In other words, how will the work done in each component feed back into and support the other?
6. When working online, students frequently have problems scheduling their work and managing their time, as well as understanding the implications of the blended or online course module as related to learning. What do you plan to do to help your students address these issues?
7. How will you divide the percent of time between the face-to-face portion and the online portion of your course? How will you schedule the percent of time between the face-to-face and online portion of your course, e.g., one two-hour face-to-face followed by one two-hour online session each week?
8. How will you divide the course-grading scheme between face-to-face and online activities? What means will you use to assess student work in each of these two components?
9. Students sometimes have difficulty acclimating to the course Web site and to other instructional technologies you may be using for face-to-face and online activities. What specific technologies will you use for the online and face-to-face portions of your course? What proactive steps can you take to assist students to become familiar with your Web site and those instructional technologies? If students need help with technology later in the course, how will you provide support?
10. There is a tendency for faculty to require students to do more work in a blended or online course than they normally would complete in a purely traditional course. What are you going to do to ensure that you have not created a course and one-half? How will you evaluate the student workload as compared to a traditional class?
"Courtesy of University of Milwaukee's Learning Technology Center"