Week 19 – Hybrids, Blended et al

Week 19’s entry the old fashioned way

I love the idea of completely open courses, but the problems of exam integrity still sways me to keep my exams and quizzes on a password protected CMS where hopefully only registered students can take them. I have heard horror stories of universities with large lecture hybrid courses having to check student I.D. cards upon entering to take face to face exams. That sounds horrible!

My experiences with online courses and open source course material

I teach fully online but it is through a CMS and is not open. I also keep an open blog for my face to face courses where I post the class Powerpoint slides, song lists and interesting links. Anyone can see my blog. BTW, it is from the information and philosophies I have learned from this cohort that I decided to create the class blog and post the class information there. I used to be one of the instructors who thought doing so would give students a reason to skip class, but I haven’t noticed much of a difference in attendance either way. Those students who want to skip class will do so regardless of the Powerpoint slides. I do like how this has allowed for more in-class discussion, song analysis and video viewing than in previous terms.

Readings

The text reading was very general. I would like some case studies or specific examples of hybrid or blended successes.

My concerns

I am concerned about the various hybrid definitions from campus to campus. I was approached by a dept. chair very recently about converting my face to face course to a hybrid course. I said it was an option and that I was capable and supportive of this type of change. One thing that was said was, “Once courses are offered as hybrid they can all be large lecture”. This concerns me. Large lecture is not ideal for hybrid courses, nor fully online courses. It seems that online/hybrid is an enticing way to pack more students for the buck for some campuses. How does this best serve the students?

With regards to using campus CMS’s as a repository for files and nothing else, I do this as well for my face to face courses. I have been told that if I put too much in the CMS or require students to use it that my course would have to be listed as a hybrid course in the official catalog offering and class schedule. This seems like a slippery slope and a bit of a catch 22. If I try to integrate more online activity I may get in trouble, but if I do not, I am not really using the resources at hand the best way I can. P.S. I am not a full time teacher so I am also concerned about keeping my job(s) and have to straddle the fence between best practices and job security.

As much as a seminar environment would be great for online group work as mentioned in the text, group work seems out of the question with 75+ students. I am often teaching freshmen who need lots of hand holding and instruction and it is not feasible with 75+ of them all potentially confused. I would like some ideas please??

The readings this week opened up more concerns for me than answered questions. I am now a convert to open courses on the web, but I find the balance between philosophy and college politics daunting.

 

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4 thoughts on “Week 19 – Hybrids, Blended et al

  1. Lisa M Lane says:

    Just a few resources (I think it’s 47) that might have some successful blended classes: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/Browse/HybridorBlendedLearning/33312.

    For some of us, the idea may not be so much open courses as open content. When we put our content on the open web, and keep our courses (exams, etc) behind a wall, that may be a good balance.

  2. jproppe says:

    Wow! Thanks so much for the link Lisa. You have a wealth of helpful tools. I so very much appreciate all the help you give in this cohort!!!

    I have been feeling pressure lately from various campuses (not MCC) and I am afraid my down mood has crept into my blog posts. I have never been one to shrink away from a challenge, but I don’t feel that 75-95 students in a hybrid course is ideal at all. And they want to offer three of them at that size!!! I also fear that expressing my concern could cost me my job.

    Anyhow, I look forward to exploring these tips and links over the weekend when I have some extra time. Thanks again 🙂

    • Lisa M Lane says:

      As an adjunct, it is always risky to express ones concern about this kind of thing too openly, especially if it’s policy. Are full-timers teaching this absurd number in a class as well?

      I have been thinking lately about the ways to teach large numbers, particularly in light of the Massive Open Online Classes and what they’re doing at Stanford. You lose the connection between the individual and the instructor, but there may be ways to put community more to the forefront. I’m thinking on these issues, too – this class is a good example!

  3. Hi Jean,
    I understand your concern about exam integrity. I think that one of the key issues that is holding up online education from developing to its full potential is the lack of actionable examination procedures.
    I teach large online classes as well, but in my case it is easier than in yours, because I teach seniors. Regarding group work I suggest that you organize students into groups (emphasizing the fact that any student should be able to work with any other classmate, and that they cannot expect to always work alongside their buddies when they be in the professional workplace). I have tried both procedures: having the students arrange themselves into groups, and arranging them myself. In my case (fully online courses) the latter worked better, because it was quicker, created less fuss on the online forum, and there were not any “lost/lonely” students asking in the forum who might want to join them for group work.

    Regards,
    Nacho Giraldez
    classinthecloud.wordpress.com

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