OSU Portland CenterOregon State University now has over 500 hybrid (“blended”) courses including the Ecampus hybrid degree and certificate programs offered through the new Portland Center.

What do OSU faculty say about blended learning? Since 2012, participants in the Hybrid Faculty Learning Community have been blogging about their approaches to blended course design and teaching. The resulting 200+ posts in the Hybrid Faculty Blog are a rich compendium of reflections on hybrid teaching and learning.

As they design hybrid courses, faculty from across OSU describe how they come to terms with a course format that has great potential to successfully engage today’s students, but that can be challenging to do well, especially the first time. Instructors celebrate the possibilities of a course mode that combines “the best of both worlds” of online and face-to-face teaching and learning. Here are selections from their writing about integration of online and face-to-face learning, flipped teaching and student-to-student interaction.

Integration of Online and Face-to-Face Learning Activities

Our face-to-face meetings will be used to integrate all that they have been learning online and will use open-ended questions to engage students in discussions intended to broaden and deepen their thinking about the module’s content. – Ted Paterson, Business

The key method we are using to link the online material and the classroom time is the weekly case study.  Each case study will be tied to the learning objectives for that week, which in turn are mapped to course-level learning objectives…. This case study approach will both illustrate and reinforce the course concepts while also giving the students an opportunity to explore additional concepts. – Sue Carozza, Public Health

Flipped Teaching and Learning

Moving to a flipped approach provides an opportunity to really consider what types of learning materials and strategies deeply engage students in knowledge generation, while taking advantage of the expanding capabilities of electronic media. – John Bolte, Biological and Ecological Engineering (BEE)

Students using technology in blended classroomOnline and classroom experiences will be linked in a variety of ways. Specifically, the online activities will help students prepare for class by completing readings, video lectures, and quizzes prior to class meetings. Class time can then be used to focus on difficult concepts and to expand on current issues in nutrition. – Jennifer Jackson, Nutrition

The goal for the online content is that students arrive in class with a similar level of knowledge after reviewing and being quizzed on background materials. In-class content will then emphasize materials that are likely new to all students, emphasizing engineering design, example calculations, and content…. In this model, the online content will provide the theoretical foundation for diving deeper with in-class content on design. – Desiree Tullos, BEE

Student-to-Student Interaction

Integrating real-time discussion in class has been very fruitful in my hybrid course. I use a Just-In-Time approach where the students are asked a question prior to class, where they participate by posting in a discussion board and replying to each other. The discussion board closes a few minutes after the start of class. If there are points to discuss, I open a new discussion board and the students interact online for four minutes or so. I find that they have gotten to know each other very well in a short time by integrating their online presence with in-class discussions. In general, they are more open to verbally discussing material than previous classes I have taught. – Kathy Hadley, Astronomy

Students working together in blended classOne of the great things that online courses provide is the opportunity to have more transparency throughout a project compared to a non-hybrid class, because the digital material is available all the time and the entire class can have access. In a typical non-hybrid course … the students rarely see the daily or weekly progress and process of how other teams are working. Allowing teams to see one another’s process, progress and being allowed to contribute to other team’s process and progress may create a richer and more transparent experience for students. My hope is that innovative online team experiences will expand students’ collaborative toolkit, [and] help them gain confidence in peer learning. – Andrea Marks, Design

Understanding and fostering students learning from one another is a method of also avoiding the “sage on the stage” problem…. In our field it is important for each future public health professional to internalize that they will need to learn from the communities they will be working in. I believe one way to foster that is to make certain that students are learning from their peers and that we are continually learning from them as well. – Karen Volmar, Public Health

Want to find out more about hybrid teaching and learning? Check out the resources on the OSU Hybrid Learning webpage and review the effective hybrid teaching practices that OSU hybrid faculty have identified. Thinking of designing a hybrid course? Talk to an Ecampus instructional designer and learn how to use a blended learning mix map.

Every term a group of OSU faculty participate in the hybrid faculty learning community.  Group members each redesign a classroom course for hybrid (a.k.a. blended) delivery in which a substantial portion of the course learning activity takes place online, and face-to-face meeting time is typically cut in half.

Beyond individual hybrid courses on the Corvallis and Cascades campuses, some entire OSU graduate programs are offered in a hybrid format through Ecampus, such as the College of Education’s doctoral program in Adult and Higher Education.

In what ways are hybrid and online course pedagogy the same?  In what ways are they different?  For more information about hybrid course design and delivery, visit the Hybrid Course Initiative.  And, if you’re interested in participating in the hybrid faculty learning community, see the Request for Proposals for the Fall ’13 program; the proposal deadline is April 30.

Whether you’re a regular visitor to this blog or you just stumbled on it for the first time, you may be curious about where to learn more about the world of online education, particularly from an instructor’s perspective. You could start with a Google search for “online education,” but sorting through the 14 million results would be very time consuming!

To substantially speed things up–so you’ll have time to watch the leaves turn–here are four great sites where you can access a wealth of information, tools and resources about teaching online and the growing field of hybrid (“blended”) learning. Check them out!

  • EDUCAUSE Learning Initiativea community of higher education institutions and organizations committed to advancing learning through information technology (IT) innovation”
  • Merlota free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy”
  • National Center for Academic Transformationan independent non-profit organization dedicated to the effective use of information technology to improve student learning outcomes and reduce the cost of higher education”
  • The Sloan Consortium“a consortium of individuals, institutions and organizations committed to quality online education”

An approach known as “inverted” or “flipped” learning is gaining momentum in contemporary higher education. Inverted learning figuratively flips the traditional lecture-plus-homework format of many college courses on its head. Rather than using class time for the largely one-way delivery of information from instructor to student, the lecture material is made available online for students to study prior to class. Then classroom time can be used for face-to-face interaction that includes clarification, amplification, small-group work, problem solving, review, and assessment of learning built on the foundation of online course content and readings.

As illustrated in Robert Talbert’s presentation, “Inverting the Classroom, Improving Student Learning,” the inverted learning model moves more of the transmission of information outside the classroom, so that class time can be devoted to higher-level assimilation activities. A growing body of research, including a widely publicized University of British Columbia study published recently in the journal Science, points to the efficacy of devoting class time to learning activities other than lectures.

By nature, inverted learning is well suited to “hybrid” courses, which include both regular classroom meetings—with class meeting time typically reduced by 50%—and significant online content delivered via a learning platform such as Blackboard. A pilot program for development of hybrid courses is the centerpiece of OSU’s new Teaching & Learning Technologies Initiative. A request for proposals to participate in this pilot program will be distributed to OSU faculty by early September.