Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Where's the Power Point?

First a note about presentations. I am using a "presentation blog" instead of Power Point! This is a great example of the transformations we are going to discuss:


  • Paper-Centric (where did I put that?)
  • Static and singular (difficult to update and distribute after-the-fact)
  • Non-Interactive (Where are the responses, additions, and suggestions?)


  • Web-Native (everyplace, anytime & active hyperlinks to resources)
  • Active Updating (simple, push-button updating online)
  • Interactive (open to input from selected group or worldwide readers)
  • Syndicated worldwide instantly via RSS (see the syndications in right column)

Blended Learning - A Growing Phenomenon

Blended Learning is a term describing a class that is delivered using both the face-to-face and online delivery modes. In general, this type of delivery (also called hybrid) reduces the number of face-to-face visits by conducting a portion of the class activity online. This mode of delivery is more popular than entirely online learning. In many respects, it combines the best of both modes of delivery.

The Best of Both

There are many advantages to teaching in a blended format. Such advantages include:
  • Reduced travel time (and expense) for students
  • Flexibility for faculty members - such learning through unexpected snow days!
  • Collaborative and reflective features of online learning
  • Interactive and interpersonal features of face-to-face learning
  • Student-centered
  • Opening the opportunity for new pedagogical approaches

Other possible advantages?

Not an Arbitrary Decision

The key to success in blended classes - as with all classes - is planning. A recipe for disaster is to arbitrarily choose to alternate online and on-campus sessions, or alternate months or any decisions made merely by the calendar.

Only through carefully examining your desired learning outcomes and related factors can you effectively decide which sessions are most effective online and which ones are most effective face-to-face!

Adapting Your Course to Blended Delivery

There are many considerations along the path of adapting your course to blended delivery. Don't rush into making changes. Know that this will include your re-evaluating your role as instructor, the students' roles as learners, the pacing of the class, and much more. Your emphasis should be on both the process and the product (the learning process and the learning outcomes).

What Goes Where?

There are no hard and fast rules in this area. You can draw upon the experience of others, but you will need to make the final decisions based on your teaching style (pedagogical approaches); your students' maturity and technological abilities; and opportunities that may be available.

Remember that the face-to-face component does not need to be in the classroom - it can be at a professional conference (for example in a capstone course), in a workplace (for example a professional laboratory), or at an historical site.

Much of the success of a blended class comes from thinking outside the box - re-inventing your class to best serve the learning process and outcomes.

Mid-course Corrections

As we all know course development is never done. We constantly assess, review, and revise our courses to assure they are up-to-date, relevant, and meet the needs of our students. Providing a mid-term student assessment allows you to determine how students are thriving in the class and to make adjustments to the class to make students more comfortable.

Resources for Blending

Many resources are available for Blended Learning. Maricopa College mainains an up-to-date list of resources (linked to the header of this posting).

Excellent online tutorials on blended learning are available:

The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee:

Michigan State University:

Larry Ragan of Penn State also shares an excellent tutorial via the cnx (open source connections) site:

Contacting Ray

Ray Schroeder
Professor Emeritus and Director
Center for Online Learning, Research and Service
Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning
University of Illinois at Springfield
Springfield, IL 62703