Often, when we think of online course instruction, and the usage of a Learning Management Systems (LMS) to facilitate it, the usage of a combination of face-to-face and online learning in the same course is overlooked.
This latter method of instruction is called hybrid, or blended, learning. In short, a portion of the class is delivered via face-to-face instruction and the rest is done through an LMS, like Angel or Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1. At the College of Southern Nevada, where we run Angel, I encourage our entire faculty to explore the usage of this teaching style.
Although there are many benefits to both students and faculty associated with using hybrid courses, I thought I’d list just a few:
- Promoting familiarity with the LMS – I recommend that faculty “newbies” start by posting their syllabus and lecture notes to the course, or just add a schedule to the course calendar.
- Meeting student expectations – At a minimum, students anticipate access to course materials (eg., course syllabus, lecture notes, etc), available for retrieval and download from the course shell.
- Supporting the “green” movement – By having course materials available electronically, fewer resources are wasted as learners print their documents less often. Students can download and submit assignments through the assignment dropbox which further reduces waste.
- Utilizing classroom time more effectively – When teaching a hybrid course, instructors can transfer quizzes and exams into the LMS, allowing them to focus class time on lectures and class activities.
- Providing rapid feedback – Assignments, quizzes, and exam scores can be posted via the course gradebook. Students no longer need to wait for their next class to view grades – they simply run a grade report to view their up-to-date status.
- Assisting students with time management – Instructors can include their schedule to the course calendar. This way, students can track when class activities are scheduled and assignments are due.
The flexibility of the LMS can provide a “surprise and delight” feeling to faculty when they begin to incorporate various tools and features into hybrid courses. The tedium of some tasks is removed, and students have increased access to online course resources and the instructor’s invaluable face-to-face teaching time.
To learn more about hybrid courses and blended learning, view this series of presentations created by Dr. Richard Walker, Director of e-Learning at York University, around the subject. They are free to view and share!