Quality Assurance in Blended Learning

Well, Chapter 5 is the last chapter in my BlendKit2015 course.  It has been a wonderful experience.  Through the readings provided, the new experiences encouraged (blogs, twitter, Diigo, etc.), the discussion posts and blogs from other students and the support and webinars of the organizers I have learned, thought about and reevaluated my blended learning presentation and curriculum in the course I teach.

Chapter 5 is Quality Assurance in Blended Learning. What are or are there differentiators identified for quality of a blended experience? Dziuban, Hartman, and Mehaffy, 2014, p.326  state “[c]onclusively, the data show that high quality faculty development is the cornerstone of effective blended programs” I believe that is correct based on my observations in schools. I have been in buildings where online and blended courses were given to core subject faculty and told to do it without much instruction or guidance for the success of the program or students. After going through this course and others that have shown the importance of knowing the enduring understanding, asking the essential questions, how to assess the learning, the types of activities to transfer and exhibit the learning and the best instructional situation whether it be F2F or online, I question what kind of service are we providing for the learner if the instructor is not trained.

As this type of learning is becoming more common in higher learning, educators and administrator need to question and evaluate standards in this teaching.Chapter 5 provides selective examples of places to check for online course standards in Table 1 (https://blended.online.ucf.edu/blendkit-course-blendkit-reader-chapter-5/ ). Designers of the course must consider also the types of learners they are instructing through the online portion. They need to realize that there are students in the class that may be tech savvy and less tech savvy, need motivation and checks regularly and one that are self-motivated, work full time or student full time and many other factors.


Blended Content and Assignments

We are into week 4 of Blendkit2015 and discussing the experiences and assessments the students will participate in the blended course. I took a course from Canvas last semester about Understanding by Design (UbD).  It’s enduring understanding was that UbD is a tool to design effective online courses.  It talked about the first stage Desired Results, the goal (Learning Objective), the questions to be asked for the transfer of learning, what will the students know and able to show. Second stage in the process is Assessment Evidence, performance or other such as quizzes and self-reflection or self-assessment. The last stage, Learning Plan, is the activities in class and online to best instruct, show and transfer the learning objective.  What I really liked from the UbD was the stage used the acronym WHERETO for planning.

W = help the students know where the unit is going and what is expected? Help the teacher know where the students are coming from (prior knowledge, interests)?

H = hook all students and hold their interest?

E = equip students, help them experience the key ideas, and explore the issues?

R = provide opportunities to rethink and revise their understandings and work?

E = allow students to evaluate their work and its implications?

T = be tailored (personalized) to the different needs, interests, abilities of learners

O = be organized to maximize initial and sustained engagement, as well as effective learning?

©2003 ASCD and Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe http://www.grantwiggins.org/documents/UbDQuikvue1005.pdf

This is a good start to consider when planning for a blended class. What is best done F2F or online?  The week 4 reading had us consider the importance of the activities and assessment being well integrated between F2F and online. There was a chart that was well done to show some holistic, active activities. The instructor needs to consider when incorporating the tech into their class which activities the learner can do to learn for themselves and which the teacher is needed to help the learner.

Table 1. Learning activities for holistic, active learning

“Doing” “Observing” Self Others
DIRECT ·         Primary data

·         Primary sources

·         “Real Doing,” in authentic settings ·         Direct observation of phenomena ·         Reflective thinking

·         Journaling

·         Dialogue

(in or out

of class)



·         Secondary data and sources

·         Lectures, textbooks

·         Case Studies

·         Gaming, Simulations

·         Role Play

·         Stories

(can be accessed via: film, oral history, literature)

ONLINE ·         Course website

·         Internet

·         Teacher can assign students to “directly experience _____.”

·         Students can engage in “indirect” kinds of experience online.

·         Students can reflect and then engage in various kinds of dialogue online.

Once the type of instruction (direct, indirect, online) has been decided, the delivery system must be looked at (teacher’s role, tech). If technology, will it be webinar, discussion boards, online assessment, online text, etc.. If direct the chart below gives a good overview of the teacher’s possible roles in the activities.

Table 3. Teacher and learner activities

Teacher Role Learner Role
Communicate Read/listen
Assess Present a point of view
Provide Feedback Search/collect/analyze information
Observe Practice
Present Information Create
Organize Activities Respond

There are many areas of blended learning that maybe new to both the learner and instructor but the more structured and connected both the online and F2F instruction, activities and assessments are in the course the more successful everyone involved will be.

Charts from https://blended.online.ucf.edu/blendkit-course-blendkit-reader-chapter-4/

Blended Assessments of Learning

In week 3 of blendkit2015 the reading is about testing.  In blended courses how much is online vs. F2F, weighting of the tests, types of test and, of course, formal vs. informal. I liked the sentence, “The most crucial step needed in each unit of instruction is the preparation for students’ transfer of learning to new contexts”. As we plan the lessons and assessments we need to plan how we are going to assess how they have transfer of the lesson to their life/use.  Research has show that a mix of online and F2F and the types of assessments have been the most beneficial.  Self-graded non-credit quizzes to practice and show students mastery of topics as they build to a more in-depth understanding of the concept before possibly completing an in-class graded assessment or activity. There are many things to consider with online assessments, academic honest (for both online and F2F studies have shown it is about equal), how to design the assessment online (randomization, time limits, seeing the test question by question or as a whole, releasing the assessment, etc).Thinking about the different types of avenues to assess,  consider the importance of looking for factual recall, higher application, analysis, synthesis, and  evaluation. The wonderful thing about blended learning is that it opens the door for so many different activities in evaluation.  Online offers discussion areas, submission of work, assessments with essay questions to multiple-choice and linking many other technologies to project.

BlendKit2015 ch. 2 Blended Interactions

The reading from Chapter 2 of the Blendkit 2015 this week is about blended interaction.  Some things to consider when thinking about the interaction in your blended course are

  • How often will the class meet face to face (F2F)?
  • How much time do you invision the students working online?
  • The audience for assignments
  • Asynchronous vs. synchronous
  • Platforms for interactions between teacher and student and student to students

Another issue is motivation, retention, completion in the course.

  • What is the student’s motivation?
  • What the student’s expectation of the course, format of F2F vs online?
  • Do they want more self-guided class or more teacher lead interaction?
  • Is it a well-structured, easy to follow format?
  • Does it incorporate different learning modes and activities to keep it interesting while encouraging student inquiry and growth?

The reading talks about four styles or models for educator and learner roles and interactions.

  • John Seely Brown’s notion of studio or atelier learning
  • Clarence Fischer’s notion of educator as network administrator
  • Curtis Bonk’s notion of educator as concierge
  • George Siemens’ notion of educator as curator

This blog is an example of atelier learning as I as the student can use this blog as a creative self guided activity that the teacher and students can gain insight from each other. In the network model the teacher and the learners are guides together and their job is to assist the learner in connecting how the key concepts are related and understood as they get new information. Teachers that guide learners through lectures and activities that they were not aware of to use for resources is the example of the concierge.  The last model they discussed was the curator. The instructor “creates spaces in which knowledge can be created, explored and connected.

Understanding Blended Learning BlendKit2015 ch. 1

As I work on this course I am enjoying the information as it gives me more questions to look for, inquire and build upon. This chapter raises the questions of what does a blended program look like for a class. What strikes me is that over and over it is stressed is that the designer needs to be open minded and creative. It is important to determine the type of program that is to be delivered. During my research I came across a description of 6 models of blended learning ( http://www.dreambox.com/blog/6-models-blended-learning). They described the following models

1. face-to-face as in a typical school setting

2. rotation which is where students move between stations that include computer and teacher time (such as when I taught using READ 180 by Scholastic)

3. flex where the students take all  classes online in  a brick and mortar setting for all classes with support

4.online lab where the school does not have a teacher but provides a lab for one online course

5. self blended where the students attend all day traditional and take enrichment or credit recoup courses online

6. online driver where students have material and lessons delivered online and face to face is optional and check ins are  online with teachers.

You as the designer need to determined based on the audience and the class what is the best format for success. Next, determine clear course objectives and which objectives can be delivered better face to face or online.  Lastly, decide how to bridge between the two in a logical and smooth way and the amount of time for each.

As I search for ideas I came across some examples of blended classes. In the blentkit group on diigo site( https://groups.diigo.com/group/blendkit) I liked the article My Flipped Classroom – I Will Never Teach Another Way Again( www.emergingedtech.com/…-never-teach-another-way-again) as it gave an example of a college class that gave more instruction online and explanation/clarifications and practice activities face to face. In ch.1 it also gave two good case study examples to give different format structures.
The two quotes that I am taking away with me from ch. 1 are from case study 1, “…context is always at the core of the planning and design process.”  and “Creating good online learning experiences require effort.”
I look forward to next week ch. 2 Blended Interactions.

Into the Blended Classroom

I am starting this adventure into the blogging world as I start a new Canvas course. I have taking a few to start my education into the blended classroom world and this current one offered through UCF and EDUCAUSE “known as BlendKit2015, guides faculty and instructional designers in designing and developing blended learning experiences via consideration of key issues related to blended learning and practical step-by-step guidance in producing actual materials for a blended course.”

Through the Blended Schools Network I started learning how to build an online course using backwards design in their class 7 Steps to Building a Great Online Course. This gave me skills to look at my Canvas course to look at ways to redesign and improve the base I had started.

I hope to learn to build and incorporate a better blended classroom experience in both my high school and college settings through considering the important issues in this teaching model.

Hello world!

I am a special education teacher in a public school system in PA and teach Intro to College Reading in the local community college.  I am excited to learn blogging as I take a Blended Learning Design Course through Canvas. I hope you will follow me through my learning experiences.