One of the challenges in designing blended learning is to minimize confusion to the learner regarding assignments and content location and to make sure your course stays as a cohesive course between the online component and the face-to-face (f2f) component.
This weeks reading offered tips for addressing these two common problems with blended learning course design.
- Use a consistent pattern for the presentation of content, assignment submission, and even for teacher feedback.
- Make sure the work online is relevant to meeting the course objectives and to the in-class activities by mapping these activities and content to the course objectives.
As a learner, I have experienced the success of having a consistent pattern to how content is presented and introduced, along with how assignments are presented and submitted. This has allowed me to have a very clear path of what I need to do each week in order to be successful. I’ve also experience the latter; Presentation of new content occurred in one form whereas the next week it was in another. This led me to feeling a bit disconnect to where I was in the course and if I was making any progress. I found myself feeling overwhelmed at times not feeling sure if I needed to read and watch everything or just parts and pieces. Bringing consistency does not need to infringe upon the asynchronous nature of the online side of your course. It simple builds confidence and clarity to the learner and if done well, ties the f2f content and activities more clearly to the online side of the course.
Have you ever taken an online course that gave you so many resources only to find out that ¼ of them you just didn’t need to spend the time on? Mapping the objectives of the course to the assignments and content is a useful way to determine if your content and assignment are making sense to the learner’s journey and if they belong. Using this strategy can establish clarity by forcing you to carefully selecting reading or media than is meant to create a knowledge foundation, select interactivity tools and activities that build on that knowledge, and select assignments that assess the learners depth of understanding. Furthermore, mapping to the objectives can help you find those links between the online and the f2f environment to avoid a lack of integration many blended learning students can experience. Students need to feel that the online components of the class are integrated with what occurs and is expected in the f2f components of the course.
So remember, if you ask them to do something online ask yourself what does this support or how does this tie in to what we will do face-to-face. And if you ask them to do something in the f2f environment ask yourself how does this link back to the online side? what will they do there that will tie to this? Keeping these questions alive in your design and development process will help keep your blended course clearer to the learner and not feel like the two environments are disconnected.