Blended Learning Models
We seek to develop a scalable and sustainable framework for blended learning that can be used for future courses and program developments at Graziadio and other schools at Pepperdine University.
Specifically, this strategy addresses:
Like most companies thriving and surviving in the new digital age, so too is higher education transforming itself. Students have more competing priorities. New collaborative environments allow for different modes of knowledge creation and diffusion. Students multitask and schedule their lives more tightly. Information is more readily available. New understandings about how people learn highlight the need for richer engagement with content and each other. And what most students, faculty, and staff are keenly aware of at the Graziadio School of Business: Regardless of where you live or which campus center you take your courses, travel to and from class is increasingly challenging and costly. To this end, and in keeping of the nature of this course, we will proceed with a number of different forms of class engagement.
In recent educational technology literature, there is no shortage of definitions for "blended" (a.k.a "hybrid" or "mixed mode") learning. Some definitions are based on types of technologies (i.e. LMS, discussion boards, chats, web-collaboration, mobile devices, etc.) while others are based on time (i.e. synchronous or asynchronous) or location (traditional classroom, remote sites, or online.) The only constant in all such definitions is that it involves some combination of the available options. The other simple truth about blended learning is most higher education institutions are offering some form of it. In some parlors, it is believed that blended learning is merely an institutional transition strategy from face-to-face to fully online courses. However, a recent and comprehensive study shows that blended learning is most often forged as a discrete option that institutions choose on its own merits.
At the GraziadioSchool, a fluid definition of blended learning is both advantageous and limiting. To our benefit, there is still a wide open space for experimentation, innovation, and advances in instructional and learning models. We recognize ways in which blended learning can leverage our existing competitive advantage with students, faculty, and six graduate campus centers located throughout Southern California. On the other hand, we find limitations in the lack of benchmarks from which performance and success can be measured. The realm of blended learning - in business education and beyond - is so consumed with works-in-progress that it is difficult to recognize common concepts that can be measured across courses, programs, schools, and time. As such, this project aims to develop a stable framework for blended learning that can be generalized across our many courses, programs, and schools here at PepperdineUniversity. Such a framework can provide a shared understanding and language around a set of desired pedagogical goals, modalities of instruction and learning, available technologies and effective uses, and capacity building areas to transform curricular models and program designs.
In Spring 2008, one section of MBAM 613, Technologies and Operations in Business Management, was taught by Susan Gautsch with a blend of face-to-face meetings, online sessions, and ongoing collaboration and communication. At the heart of this design were a set of pedagogical goals:
These goals were attained, for the most part, through a combination of activities and assignments utilizing a suite of available technologies. For example, student teams collaborated in the ongoing development of their shared research and analysis project using a wiki space (Confluence) and a real-time web-collaboration and application sharing tool (Elluminate.) As some of these collaborations were purposefully visible to the whole class, other student teams were encouraged to provide constructive feedback and suggestions. Elluminate was also used to conduct class while students gathered in class as regularly scheduled, but the instructor was located at a remote site. Likewise, Elluminate enabled the instructor to conduct "virtual office hours" to meet with student teams as they progressed on their projects. At times, these sessions were recorded so team members could later review. The instructor used the recording capabilities of Elluminate to create mini-lectures that students could listen to and view as many times as necessary in preparation for in-class discussions and activities. Each student also maintained a blog where they reflected weekly on how the content of this course related to their own professional and personal experience, chosen field of study, career goals and desired industry. Using an RSS feed, student blog posts were integrated into the class wiki where the instructor could quickly grade and provide meaningful feedback while classmates could compare experiences, share connections and ideas, and enrich their collegial relationships. Additionally, using a social bookmarking tool (del.icio.us) and more RSS feeds into the class wiki, students collectively and gradually built a robust annotated bibliography they shared not only with each other. But also with the public at large. In class, clickers (a.k.a. student response cards) were used to quickly poll students to measure their collective understanding or opinions of a particular concept. Student learning was frequently assessed using Blackboard quizzes, while instructional feedback from students was attained midterm using Blackboard surveys. Lastly, student teams used Elluminate, and/or other media technologies (audio and video production, YouTube distribution) to create and showcase multimedia presentations that represented some of the core concepts taught in this course.
Using this past MBAM 613 course as a preliminary pilot, we propose to further develop this loosely formed framework for blended learning. Other technologies such as podcasting, iTunesU, and videoconferencing with streamed archives are included in the framework as well. Using three different courses, within three different programs in the GraziadioSchool, we aim to expand this pilot. The goal is not to define and duplicate a single model of blended learning. Instead our aim is to develop a robust and flexible framework in which all students, faculty, programs, and schools at Pepperdine University can share a common language and understanding of blended learning including: delivery modes, technologies, teaching and learning strategies and best practices, pedagogical and pragmatic goals, and curricular and programmatic design.
Blended Learning at Other Institutions
There are a growing number of top-ranked international business schools who offer blended learning courses, programs, and viable frameworks.
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