One of the innovations of CEP 910 is that the term ‘blended’ refers to more than offering some learning experiences Face to Face (FTF) and other learning experiences online. In CEP 910, blended also referred to simultaneous FTF and online instruction. Synchronous attendance occurred over the internet for hybrid students and in person for FTF students.
CEP 910 constructed a unique, custom course management platform to replace the FTF classroom as the course’s common meeting area, providing both a synchronous and asynchronous link amongst all class members even when some of them were never in the same geographic location at the same time.
A key goal was to match course content with various instructional techniques, including lecture, seminar-like discussions, and cooperative activities in which students work together in small-groups. The emphasis on cooperative activities was guided by theory and research highlighting the importance of making students feel a sense of belonging, meeting their needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness (self- determination theory), and maintaining mastery rather than performance goals (goal theory).
For synchronous blending, CEP 910 had one Google Hangout running on a computer in the classroom per workgroup, and assigned FTF and online students to each group. FTF and hybrid students participated in a variety of cooperative activities, ranging from the simple (e.g., base groups, ‘turn-to-your neighbor’ discussions) to more complex (e.g., jigsaw, constructive controversy). Google Hangouts allowed every member of the class to work with every other member of the class, regardless of their FTF or hybrid status.
The synchronous learning platform included an embedded live HD video stream of the instructor in the course website. The instructors used one wireless microphone for each Google Hangout workstation. When the instructor wanted to address the entire class, hybrid students turned their attention to the embedded video stream of the instructor on the course website. To avoid audio feedback issues, the instructor collected the wireless microphones prior to addressing the class, and then returned the microphones when the class went back to Google Hangout collaboration.
CEP also used Google Forms and Etherpad (shared onscreen writing) technology as synchronous collaboration tools for FTF and hybrid participants. Careful advanced structuring helped FTF and online students connect to their assigned groups, forms, and Etherpad.
To support asynchronous learning experiences, CEP 910 used Wordpress to create the class web site and Piazza, a free web-based service that supports question and answer forums for answering weekly questions and, during asynchronous course sessions, supporting lively discussion forums. Piazza’s features include email notifications, tagging, and both named and anonymous posting.
This advanced graduate course was also designed to involve students in actual research on motivation. Rather than simply read about research, students were involved in data collection and thinking deeply about the strengths and limitations of measuring motivational outcomes. A Java-based survey tool was developed in the spirit of Csikszentmihalyi’s Experience Sampling Method (ESM) that prompted students to answer motivation survey questions once per hour when logged into the course website.
This data collection served to document FTF and hybrid students’ experiences as they occurred “in- the-moment,” and to link these experiences to students’ subjective experience of context (FTF, synchronous online, asynchronous online), instructional activities (i.e., base group, lecture, small-group discussion), and time (i.e., week one, two, etc.). The final dataset was shared with all members of the class and we now are in the process of completing the data analyses.
OTHER TEAM MEMBERS:
Mete Akcaoglu, Research Assistant, Web Site Developer
Dr. John Bell, Adjunct Associate Professor, Technology Advisor
Ammon Wilcken, Teaching Assistant, Course/Grading TA