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:
- technological implementation including development and integration, administration, support, and training.
- incentives and support for faculty champions assisting in the diffusion of blended learning innovations
- identification, documentation, and promotion of best practices and lesson learned
- training materials and programs for faculty and staff and
- identification of potential opportunities for new program designs and/or partnerships.
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.
- Face-to-face Sessions: Meeting in the same physical space / room at the same time (like a traditionally scheduled class) we will engage in many collaborative activities, large and small group discussions, and highly interactive presentations. The basic premise of these class meetings is that knowledge and understanding is socially constructed. Therefore committed engagement and interaction is required. Very little time will be devoted to traditional and passive lecture.
- Dual-site Synchronous Sessions: Meeting together at the same time, but students may attend from one of two different campus centers (likely WLA or Irvine- but other centers will be considered based on student need and technical capabilities.) We will engage with each other via videoconferencing and web-based collaboration software.
- Distributed Online Sessions: Meeting together at the same time, but students may connect from anywhere they have a dependable broadband connection, able computer and headset/microphone (see required materials), and a quiet environment where you can talk freely without interruption - i.e. home or work. (Note: café isn't recommended because background noise level is disruptive to others joined in online.) We will use a web-collaborative and Voice-over-IP tool called Elluminate. It is free and we will make sure every student has it successfully loaded and operational on their computer before meeting. You will also be able to use Elluminate for your team collaborations.
- Online and Asynchronous: With no set meeting time, you will discuss and work collaboratively with each other over the course of a week - often not at the exact same time - using a variety of collaborative tools.
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:
- to place the students at the center of the learning experience guided and mentored by the instructor,
- to facilitate ongoing and constructive team collaboration and peer feedback
- to integrate students' own existing knowledge, skills, and experiences,
- to emphasize core concepts while providing flexible engagement with supporting content,
- to frequently assess and reveal to students' their own progress in understanding and readiness to apply course content
- to engage students specifically where they are ready to learn,
- to make students' thinking visible to the instructor, their peers, and themselves,
- to build students' capacity to express their ideas in multiple forms and media, and
- to engage students in meaningful and relevant work valuable to a community beyond the course itself.
- to enable the instructor to conduct class from a remote site while students gathered either together in class as regularly scheduled or remotely for individual or team consultations.
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.
- Google Apps
- Digital Whiteboard
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.
- BabsonCollege FastTrack MBA: In this highly regarded program, the Olin Graduate School of Business leverages a partnership with Intel Corporation to increase their enrollment and strengthen their reputation. FastTrack MBA students meet face-to-face for 50% of class time, 30% of their meeting time consists of online team collaboration, and 20% consists of viewing content-rich DVD-based lectures and presentations. They use a combination of Blackboard, Elluminate, blogs, wikis, Turnitin plagiarism deterrent, and Brownstone assessment tools. Faculty participation is publicly rewarded and recorded in their RTP scorecard. Babson's provost stands as a strong supporter of this program and blended learning model.
- George Mason University - ClassroomPlus MBA: Using their existing curricular and cohort model, the SchoolofManagementat GMU wished to expand their enrollment and enhance their partnership with Northrop Grumman. In this program, students have increased flexibility meeting only four times a year while still having a 50/50% face-to-face and online learning experience. Using live webcasts on WebEx, both local and remote students participate in many of the synchronous sessions. WebCT is used for sharing documents, threaded discussions, quizzes, and teamwork. A select number of faculty participated in an initial Faculty Fellows program to develop a base of best practices, training materials, and teaching strategies that were then shared with all other faculty within the program.
- Saint Mary's College of California Hybrid Executive MBA: Using a suite of new Web 2.0 and open source technologies, SMC meets the needs of students while not being constrained by any specific vendors or proprietary limitations. Online sessions are held in a real-time web conferencing system that combines voice, video, shared applications and a collaborative whiteboard. Faculty lecture podcasts are published to Apple's ubiquitous iTunes for 24/7 access and download. Each students recieves an Apple iTouch upon entering the program. wWith this mobile device, students can listen to (and watch) faculty lectures while driving, jogging, traveling, waiting in line, or anywhere they may roam.
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