My module topic will teach students academic success skills in hybrid courses. The target audience is my freshmen advisees. Most first year students do not register for hybrid courses until their second semester; therefore, they should enroll in this module in the first semester to better understand what blended learning is at VCU, and develop methods that will support academic achievement in those learning environments. My module will consist of 5 lessons. The first lesson will be an introduction of blended learning and students will have the opportunity to take an optional pilot pre-test that can help students determine which areas to focus on. At the end of the semester students will take a post-test to measure growth. In my second lesson, I will make them aware of the online platforms they may use and teach them how to search properly online. The third lesson will address goals and motivation. I would like to adapt a colleague’s 90 action plan specifically for blended learning. The plan is based on research that shows it takes 90 days to form a new habit. I would like students to have the opportunity to share their action plans with the group and regularly blog/journal about their progress. The fourth lesson will focus time management, which will address self-directed/independent learning skills. Students are required to have a planner for this course and maintain a weekly to do list as part of the 90 day challenge. I’m still thinking through how I can require instructor interaction, but I want that to be mentioned in one of the lessons. Any ideas? I was thinking the final or fifth lesson would be a virtual presentation of their 90 day academic plan.
One common misconception about blending learning is that there will be limited opportunities to connect with the instructor. What blended learning tries to do is get students learning content online asynchronously so there is plenty of opportunity to connect when they arrive for class. The Econ chair I mentioned in my COI blog post stressed the importance of discussion when its time to meet face to face with her students. Hybrid courses are wonderful opportunities for instructors to focus more on the student versus content while in class. Some students also have the opportunity to get immediate feedback from the instructor when completing online quizzes or assessments. Finally, a student may feel more comfortable discussing ideas/opinions nonverbally to the instructor online as opposed to in class; so there are plenty of contradictions to that myth.
The second misconception is that hybrid courses are easier/less work than traditional, in-class environments. Most of my students who come in to schedule classes see a course that only meets once a week and think “that sounds great!” Some may even come into my office unaware they are enrolled in a hybrid course (hard to believe I know). Students mistakenly think they just need commit to that one hour of class time and that’s it. In fact, hybrid courses can be more challenging for students because of the opportunity to go into more depth; students are expected to participate in discussions with one another at irregular hours and may in fact put in more hours than a traditional in class environment. For these reasons, some students struggle with having the right, up to date tools, staying motivated, organized, and feeling comfortable interacting with the instructor.