Monthly Archives: March 2017

Lightbulb Moments with BlendKit – Week 3

(Side note: My off work time has become increasingly busier as of late with recently getting married (tee-hee) and looking for a new house (possibly building). I intend to keep up with this blog but wanted to mention any irregular gaps between posting. Thank for reading!)

Update: I feel way too disconnected from this topic this week, but found I really missed going through the readings and posting this reflection. I attended the live webinar yesterday and as usual, it was fun and informative. I wish I had a login for their Materia tool, and hope they do find a way to open that up to non-UCF people. They have created several templates for interactive widgets/games for instructors and designers to use in their courses. I may or may have to spend a fair amount of time playing around with that over the past year or so. I first found it during my research for an interview I had with UCF and was glad to check it out again after the webinar yesterday. Like Kelvin Thompson said, having tools like that is a work in progress. I for one an glad they keep it up!

This weeks’ questions will be somewhat more theoretical in nature since my teaching experience (so far) has been mostly in K12 and with faculty professional development. I look forward to exploring this topic in order to formulate a more solid idea of what future courses could look like as far as assessments.

Questions to Ponder

  • How much of the final course grade do you typically allot to testing? How many tests/exams do you usually require? How can you avoid creating a “high stakes” environment that may inadvertently set students up for failure/cheating?
    • I would like to just say that this depends on the type, of course, however, in my experience, it seems there is always some sort of test in each course. Whether it is a quiz/knowledge check, midterm, final, or something else like a project there is something that the student can show to the instructor that they have (or have not) met the learning outcomes for the course. I would focus more on what I want the students to be able to do and let that lead to the product and thus to how much of the final grade it takes up.
    • I hope I would be realistic my expectations for the course so students do not feel that the only way to complete required tasks is to fail or cheat.  I would use the results of each course and any associated hiccups or challenges to reevaluate my expectations. Like any effective course design, I would set up an iterative process to improve and empower students to succeed while meeting the expected outcomes.
  • What expectations do you have for online assessments? How do these expectations compare to those you have for face-to-face assessments? Are you harboring any biases?
    • The most challenging assessments I remember taking during my online course days were the ones where you could just tell that a TON of thought was put into the questions. Whether it was a quiz, exam, or a project you could not just Google or Ctrl+F the keywords to get the answer(s). The reflective thought required took extra time but I guarantee I remember more of that content than assessments that were not designed that way. This way there was at least some built-in protection cheating…especially when the answer had to be open-ended and in your own words.
    • I think many of my expectations for online are similar to those I hold for f2f classes. Dedicated time to work on projects is great in both modalities, as is allowing people to team up (when appropriate) on tasks. It would be hard, though, I imagine, to hold to that when face to face with students…it would be tempting to change stuff or give more information or guidance. Hopefully not, but this is uncharted territory and I bet experience would be the great teacher!
    • As the BlendKit text mentions, I too am a fan of student-generated questions. Those require not only thinking about the answer but real forethought when designing the questions! Win-Win!
  • What trade-offs do you see between the affordances of auto-scored online quizzes and project-based assessments? How will you strike the right balance in your blended learning course?
    • I could see it being nice to have quick pop-quiz or knowledge check style quizzes be auto-scored. Those multiple guess, I mean multiple choice, t/f, fill in the blank questions could be used and could even serve as good study material for students. However, as my answer to the previous question stated, it is difficult to discourage cheating when using that style, and the questions themselves tend to be on the lower end of thinking skills (like Bloom’s).
    • It would depend some on the topic, but I would try to balance out auto-scored and more project based assignments by periodically reviewing the course content to see what design would work best for each outcome. I do remember seeing tools online that could be used to review your course for media and assessment types used to make sure one style was not used too much more than others. It may have been a UDL-related resource, but I digress…
  • How will you implement formal and informal assessments of learning into your blended learning course? Will these all take place face-to-face, online, or in a combination?
    • I fought off copy and pasting my last answer here, but again it will depend. (Yeah, that is a bit of a cop out answer. I shall endeavor to do better.)
    • Informal assessments are a very effective way to gauge learner understanding and help apply aide and resources as needed. The student may or may not realize this too, we always hope they will and encourage it but if they do not the formal assessment sure will! Some data may be required by the institution too, so this and direction by the Program dept would influence when and how these all happen.
    • I would hope to have formal and informal assessments wherever they are needed on a day to day basis, but in planning hope that I could rely on a combined approach.
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Lightbulb Moments with BlendKit – Week 2

Update: This week is my week to catch up. I have another course I am going through for PD (I do this to myself all too frequently), so it was tricky the first couple weeks to get a rhythm to get both these courses done. Now I have a plan for completing both courses, and look forward to what will come of it all! The course actually just started week 3, but if I stay on my schedule, it should work out. Wish me luck! Both courses are interesting, and I do not want to flake out and lose what I have done or could get in the coming weeks!

I missed the live webinar this week due to other meetings but watched the recording. There were several great points discussed by the panelists on engaging discussions and interactions, some of which are related to questions and concerns I have heard from our faculty. Now I need a plan to share this with them and our faculty development coordinator.

Questions to Ponder

  • Is there value in student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction in all courses regardless of discipline?
    • My initial thought on this is to say “Of course!”,  But I think it really depends on what the learning outcomes/goals are for the course. Like any other learning opportunity, students will come to each of their courses with a different set of background experiences and prior knowledge. Combine this with varying degrees of motivation and intellect and even an outsider to the world of Education could see there are just too many variables to say for certain if there is always inherent value.
    • The above point being stated, I think student-to-instructor interaction is critical. With instructor knowledge of the subject matter and their pedagogical ability to meet students where they are at, no matter what students come in with (other than the required prereqs), they have the opportunity to meet the goals of the course and build their own definition of value in each interaction.
  • What role does interaction play in courses in which the emphasis is on declarative knowledge (e.g., introductory “survey” courses at the lower-division undergraduate level) or, similarly, in courses that cultivate procedural knowledge (e.g., technical courses requiring the working of problem sets)?
    • What my real-world understanding of the role interaction plays in various course types is limited to the courses and subjects I have taught or ones I have worked with faculty on. That being said, those experiences combined with what I know about student interaction best practices allow me to have at least a starter answer to this question. Learning styles or preferences have to play a part in either an intro course or a technical course. From my experience, the ideal scenario has a course with multiple options for students to complete the objectives and assignments for each course. Of course, it takes time to construct or procure these options but using  +1 thinking (doing just ONE more thing-adding one additional type of media or assignment), over time this can be a reality. In our courses at this college, a significant portion of the interactions in some courses would be essential for students. Two examples from this college would be our Nursing or Auto Body Programs. It would be hard to pass someone in any of the related courses if they have not interacted in the lab assignments. Do you want someone drawing blood that has never practiced doing it in a Simulation Lab? Obviously not. Hand over your car to someone who has never painted a car before? Well, sure if you really want to stand out…and not in a good way. Of course, I am joking but I bet you get the idea.
    • A somewhat more general (and concise) answer to the role interactions play would be that in either course type, interactions in online forums, with software, group or teamwork, etc. would reinforce the content.As the reading for this week mentioned, whether this is through minimal or guided learning is up to the instructor and often to the type of content.
  • As you consider designing a blended learning course, what kinds of interactions can you envision occurring face-to-face, and how might you use the online environment for interactions? What opportunities are there for you to explore different instructional strategies in the blended course than you have in the past?
    • For our professional development courses, I can see face to face interactions being especially important for fully online faculty. They are typically not engaging as much with their peers like on campus faculty are, so offering face to face sessions would be one way to provide an opportunity to do so.
    • The online environment would be a great mode to offer recorded webinars or asynchronous content for their review at a time convenient for them. Even better would be to offer different times for live webinars to supplement or just give another option for a simulated face to face meeting with their peers.
    • I think our department has the ability to meet the needs of faculty in so many ways that hopefully, we can offer something for everyone. Whether that is online, face to face, or a mixture of both. UDL for faculty PD, anyone? 🙂
  • What factors might limit the feasibility of robust interaction face-to-face or online?
    • Timing – In my world, we all deal with the issue of finding the “right” time to have face to face sessions or online sessions for PD. Faculty have so many other obligations that it is hard (even if they have the desire) to prioritize their own PD.
    • Attendance – all too often sessions have low attendance, so the interaction and collaboration opportunities are minimal. Meeting faculty where they are at with what they need for PD has always been tricky.
    • Interest – no matter what each person has going on, if the level of interest in the topic is not there, it does not matter when or where the PD is offered.

Lightbulb Moments with BlendKit – Week 1

Intro: Last week I started (finally) to explore BlendKit. After gaining more familiarity with my own colleges’ offerings, I wanted to gain more insight and ideas into how we could generally expand those offerings and improve what we already have.

As a recommended part of the course, I will be posting a reflection post here each week. I will highlight things that stood out for me, as weel as answer the Questions to Ponder that are offered in the course. I hope to also be highlighting the work of others in the course who are also posting on their blogs. Please check them out when you come across the link to their blog! Another part of the course is the DIY (do it yourself) assignments. This week, that will be a separate post but some weeks may work better to be included in the reflection.

I first heard about BlendKit from the TOPcast podcast. So far, I am already impressed by the wealth of information and resources it offers! And it is an OER! Check out their website:

BlendKit Toolkit

About BlendKit: Based upon proven research and informed by practical experience, this Blended Learning Toolkit will offer guidance, examples, professional development, and other resources to help you prepare your own blended learning courses and program.

Questions to Ponder

  • Is it most helpful to think of blended learning as an online enhancement to a face-to-face learning environment, a face-to-face enhancement to an online learning environment, or as something else entirely?
    • I think it depends on the subject matter or content. Some course or content are better face-to-face (f2f) or have to be f2f (as in a Nursing or Automotive course) and some are better fully online.
  • In what ways can blended learning courses be considered the “best of both worlds” (i.e., face-to-face and online)? What could make blended learning the “worst of both worlds?”
    • Learning styles and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – blended offers something for students who process information better in person as well as for those students who benefit from going solo in their learning so they can focus and not have to deal with so many distractions. UDL recommends offering the content in multiple formats so blended gives the opportunity to offer content in more than one form.
    • Blended courses can allow a discussion that happened in the f2f course the chance to continue to flourish online. Conversely, if there was an interesting discussion online, that can be taken into the f2f sessions.
    • If either mode is done poorly blended can become the worse of both worlds. Just a few ways this could happen -if there is no engagement or feedback from either the instructor or the students, if the same powerpoint slides are posted online with nothing else, or if the students are not oriented on being a successful online learner.The instructor just lectures or is not present in the f2f session or virtually in the online sessions.
  • As you consider designing a blended learning course, what course components are you open to implementing differently than you have in the past? How will you decide which components will occur online and which will take place face-to-face? How will you manage the relationship between these two modalities?
    • For our PD, I would like to start offering asych content and then offer web meetings on those same topics, both would always have the option to meet with our team 1:1 in person or virtually.
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