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Designing a Blended Course

Designing your blended course involves much more than “converting” the content of an existing online or face-to-face course. This page contains items for you to consider while you are adapting your course.

Please contact COLRS for assistance with any and all steps of this process.

1. Start early.

Begin preparing your blended course at least one semester before you plan to offer it for the first time. When the course does not have any online materials, this is especially important.

2. Reconsider your role as an instructor.

How will teaching in a blended mode affect your role as an instructor? Zane L. Berge describes four roles for online facilitators that are helpful for instructors in blended learning models. Kaleta, Skibba, and Joosten re-define these roles for blended instructors.

  • Pedagogical
  • Social
  • Managerial
  • Technological

3. Focus on your course goals.

What do you want students to learn? What steps do you take to get there? How are these intermediate steps best facilitated? Or, how do you want them to learn it?

4. Make the most of each mode.

Sort through your content. What content works best online vs. face-to-face? What opportunities and projects will a blended course allow that might not be possible in online or face-to-face courses? Use each mode to its highest potential and ensure both you and your students spend your time effectively.

Examine what is NOT working in the face-to-face classroom and see if can be improved online. Consider what students can do independently. Many instructors find that online forums evoke more thoughtful dialogue from their students.

  • Discussion
  • Reflections
  • Readings
  • Remedial materials
  • Group work
  • Study guides
  • Self assessments
  • Lower-stakes quizzes and tests
  • Assignment submissions
  • Lecture notes
  • Lectures
  • Podcasts
  • Case studies
  • e-Portfolios
  • Games
  • Course/module evaluation surveys

Think about what is most engaging in the traditional classroom and retain that portion for the face-to-face experience.  Often this includes:

  • Labs
  • Demonstrations
  • Film clips
  • Student presentations
  • Introducing complex assignments
  • Group work
  • Role playing
  • Field trips
  • Conferencing
  • Editing and revision
  • Follow up on online discussions
  • Exams

5. Keep them connected.

Make sure to integrate the online and in person portions of your class. They should feel connected and feed into one another, not feel like separate courses.

6. Consider your students.

Most likely your students will not be familiar with how a blended course will function. Be sure to make expectations clear for both online and face-to-face components. Be specific and detailed about your expectations. Explain the crucial importance of time-management, especially for the online portion.

How will you introduce and acclimate your students to the technologies used in the class?

Beware of “the course and a half syndrome.” Coined by the Learning Technology Center at UW-Milwaukee, this phrase refers to the tendency for instructors to require more work in a blended course than either in face-to-face or online courses. How will you evaluate student workloads?

8. Making the grade.

How will you evaluate the online and in-person portions of the course? How will students receive feedback? How will students evaluate course modules and the course as a whole? How will you incorporate this feedback into the course development cycle?

 

* “Discovering and Designing Hybrid Courses” in Blended Learning Research Perspectives (2007), ed. by Picciano and Dzuiban. A copy is available in the Faculty Resource Center (BRK 437).