Designing Quality Blended Courses

Designing Quality Blended Courses

Amy M. Grincewicz (College of Mount St. Joseph, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8246-7.ch034
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Over the last few years, a growing number of courses have been incorporating online elements into traditional face-to-face instruction. This movement has led to the emergence of a blended teaching and learning approach, which, in turn, has increased the need to discuss the educational benefits and underlying challenges of this type of instructional delivery. When developing a blended course, a number of important principles should be kept in mind to ensure the effectiveness of the course. Effective blended design takes into consideration the differences between face-to-face and online learning and incorporates different learning and teaching strategies. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss designing a quality blended course. This chapter discusses designing activities to encourage interaction, motivation, and engagement within a blended course that can be used in the online components. In addition, how to structure a blended course and benefits of working with a development team are discussed.
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Course Alignment In Blended Learning Design

Educational technology focuses on aligning the critical course component such as learning objectives, assessments, instructional materials, learner engagement, and technology (Quality Matters, 2011). Each of these components enables learners to achieve the desired outcomes yielding effective learning. Effective learning requires constructive alignment of the curriculum, which ensures that the program, learning outcomes, instructional approaches, assessments, and course evaluation complement each other. However, many instructors and course developers lack training in educational technology (Bober, Sullivan, Lowther, & Harrison, 1998). A lack of training in educational technology may influence learners’ mastery of the course outcomes. The Center for the Study of Higher Education (2011) discusses the importance of alignment of assessments and objectives for effective learning. The relationship shows a direct correlation between the course components that is crucial for learner mastery.

An achievable goal for developing and designing blended courses is to have the courses become Quality Matters certified (Quality Matters Program, 2011). Seven of the essential standards that all quality courses must possess focus on alignment. Course developers need training on alignment and backwards design, so that these courses are certified. Backwards design is an instructional design methodology created by Wiggins and McTighe and is part of the Understanding by Design framework (Wiggins & McTighe, 2004). Backwards design begins with the end in mind by focusing on the course outcomes and then working backwards to develop the module or weekly objectives, assessments, and learning activities.

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