When developing a blended course, in addition to the regular planning of the course content and activities, you also need to develop and curate digital resources, create instructional material to guide out-of-class learning activities, and ensure the course workload is appropriate for students.
Important Considerations for Developing a Blended Course
The following questions are meant to provide some guidance as you begin to plan your blended course:
What content would students benefit most from accessing online/offline on their own time, at their own pace?
What guidance and support will students need to ensure the learning expectations, the timeline for work completion, and the processes they are expected to follow are clear?
How will you guide and monitor student work for the out-of-class activities?
How will the characteristics of your course (size, demographics, etc.) influence the choices you make for face-to-face and out-of-class activities? (Adapted from Caulfield, 2011)
How will you ensure this modality allows students to meet the course objectives while maintaining an appropriate workload?
What types of resources and/or supports would you need to ensure that you can deliver quality learning experiences for your students?
Will you be able to be inclusive of students who may not be able to attend face-to-face components?
What provisions can you make for those students?
What supports do you need to provide those arrangements?
How will you provide office hours and support for students?
Is the course multi-section? How are you coordinating with other course instructors to ensure students in all sections have an equivalent experience?
How can you use a blended format to leverage new opportunities for students to learn the concepts that are most difficult? If there are specific areas where students have a lot of difficulty, what online activities could support these difficulties? (Adapted from Caulfield, 2011)
How will you integrate face-to-face and out-of-class activities cohesively? (Adapted from Caulfield, 2011)
Planning for Blending your Course
There is no escaping the fact that (re)developing a course for any environment takes time. Sometimes, however, it is not practical to redesign an entire course. And, because blended learning is extremely flexible in terms of delivery models, it is possible to increase the amount of out-of-class activities incrementally over several terms. For example, the first time you deliver a blended course, you may develop two or three blended modules (i.e., a mix of face-to-face, online, offline, and experiential). The next time you teach the course, you can build on this until you have the optimal mix of out-of-class and face-to-face activities for student learning.
As much as possible, the module you select should align with the following instructional design principles:
✓ Students will benefit from accessing this content on their own time, at their own pace.
✓ Students will have access to resources out-of-class that would not be available during class (ie: simulations, field trips, hands-on activities, etc.).
✓ The instructor has sufficient resources and activities to develop a module a module with relative ease.
✓The out-of-class activities will promote or encourage increased student-student interaction and/or collaboration.
✓Students will have unlimited opportunity to review and/or practice with concepts that are most difficult.
✓Out-of-class activities won’t present undue challenges for students to undertake.
✓Online course components are accessible in accordance with WCAG 2.0 Guidelines.
The table below provides practical information to help you begin blending your course:
Make an inventory of your instructional videos or recorded lectures from previous or current semesters. You may be able to edit these into short mini lectures by chunking your lecture content into shorter, highly-focussed videos to use in your blended course. The CTL is available to support you with this work if needed.
Import any course content and assessments from previous terms (e.g., quizzes, assignments, discussion forums, etc.,) that align with your course learning outcomes. The Moodle team can help you import your course content.
Create your own instructional resources (e.g., PPT slides, videos, etc.) and make them available to students on Moodle. CTL can provide PPT slide templates for your use.
Identify, curate, and use open-source instructional resources to support your instruction.
Ensure digital course materials and media are accessible (e.g., include alternative text that describes what is depicted in an image, include captioning for all videos). The Brickfield Accessibility Toolkit in Moodle can help identify any accessibility issues in your Moodle course page.
Instructional Materials for out-of-class Activities
Create explicit and detailed instructions that guide student through the activities (i.e., sequence, expectations, timelines, artifacts, etc.) to equip students to work autonomously during out-of-class course activities. Clear instructions and guidelines minimize confusion and uncertainty which can lead to student stress and incomplete work.
Organize your course Moodle page, so that your course content (e.g., resources, activities, assessments, etc.) is easy to find and navigate for students.
Determine milestones for more complex projects over longer durations, and provide students with practical reminders to help them develop time management skills so they don’t fall behind with any of the out-of-class course work. (Linder 2017)
Devise a communication plan that clarifies how you will communicate with students and how students will communicate with you.
Planning an Appropriate Workload
Calculate the course workload carefully, taking into consideration the amount of time your out-of-class activities will take students to complete.
Use this workload estimator to calculate the amount of time the average student will take to work through and view lectures, do readings, complete all of the assignments, exams, and other learning tasks in your course.
Be mindful of all your teaching and learning activities (new and existing) to ensure they don’t exceed the prescribed course workload.
Note: 1 credit represents a minimum of 45 hours of academic activities, including lectures, tutorials, laboratories, studio or practice periods, examinations, and personal work”. As such, a 3-credit course requires approximately 10 hours of work per week including all face-to-face and out-of-class academic activities.
Use the following guide to help you select an appropriate module to blend for your course.
Caulfield, J. (2011). How to design and teach a hybrid course: achieving student-centered learning through blended classroom, online, and experiential activities (1st ed). Sterling, Va: Stylus Publishing.
Linder, K. E. (2017). The Blended Course Design Workbook: A practical guide. Sterling, Va: Stylus Publishing.