Posts Tagged ‘blended learning’

Blended Learning at BCC: Improving pass rates with ‘multifarious instructional design’

March 4th, 2011

As part of the Title V work going on at BCC, Professor Kenya Harris and the team of nursing instructors are making use of VoiceThread, Twitter and a number of other Web 2.0 tools to make their courses more interactive. The results are really impressive.

In a recently published article, Prof. Harris reports an improvement in pass rate of 30% since she began incorporating technology into her course design. How has she done it?

Building on the idea of blended learning Prof. Harris has stopped lecturing in her courses, opting to capitalize on face-to-face time by engaging the students in “active learning” activities that build on the content they review on their own out-of-class time. All of her lectures are available to the students via Podcasts, Videocasts and PowerPoint slides, which students are expected to review prior to class. This is particularly helpful for language learners, who can listen to a lecture numerous times. If they have questions on the material Prof. Harris has set up a “muddiest points” forum on her Blackboard course page that allows students to post their questions in the forum. Other students are often the first to respond and Prof. Harris moderates the comments and joins the conversation.

This “multifarious instructional design” as Harris calls it, let’s students master the content in their own learning style (they can use the slides, podcasts, read texts, etc.) and bring that mastery into class where she engages them in activities that build on the content, such as simulation and role-play. This is especially important for nursing students, who will be responsible for conveying medical terminology to their patients. Students report that they find these activities more engaging and exciting and the data supports her efforts. Pass rates improved 30% over the course of just three semesters, as she increasingly implemented her techniques.

In another recently published article, Gerald Bergtrom of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee documents transitioning a Cell Biology course from traditional face-to-face to a blended environment. He documents the step-by-step process and used a process similar to Harris’s — content delivery and mastery was aided by technology and occurred outside the classroom so that classroom time could be spent on more “meta” activities that actively engaged students with the content.

Both instructors are capitalizing on the “asynchronous” online discussions and interactions that can fortify content delivery and boost the level of in-class activities. For me, these ideas completely shifted/challenged how I normally thought of out-of-class time and what I expected my students to be doing with that time. They also highlight the role that technologies available on a variety of platforms and Blackboard, such as discussion boards and blogs, have in these out-of-class interactions. Finally, it is refreshing to see that they are having success with students actually doing what they are expected to do on their own and taking responsibility for their own learning┬ábecause they are ready to actively engage when they come to class.

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