Online Learning Update

August 9, 2014

Harvard pilot study put blended-format courses to the test

Filed under: Online Learning News — Ray Schroeder @ 12:10 am

By Michael Patrick Rutter, Harvard Gazette Correspondent

Bergeron’s research team developed a set of recommendations for faculty who are planning to blend existing courses, designing new ones, or are interested in critically assessing new teaching approaches. Foremost is planning, which should address questions such as how time is spent in class or sections; the instructor’s role as facilitator; what form of content — media, lecture, or text — works best for what purpose; what physical environment best promotes learning objectives; how to ensure in-class engagement. The study found that expectations about participation and time commitments should be well-defined across all components, especially those that are online. Grading systems for online components should also be transparent. Likewise, instructors must be clear about the nature of the course and why and how it is blended, as many of the students regarded the digital component as an attempt to supplant rather than supplement the in-class experience. Lastly, digital materials and in-class activities must be evenly balanced.

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