William & Mary faculty learn to create blended e-learning courses
Faculty members from all disciplines at the College of William & Mary are exploring blended learning this summer.
The courses are a combination of traditional in-class instruction with technology-aided learning outside of the classroom. Seventeen faculty members are participating in the seven-week e-learning professional development course.
The initiative seeks ways to improve the college’s programs by reducing costs or generating new revenues. A $200,000 fund was established to encourage those efforts and grants were awarded to seven of the proposed projects, including the course.
“I just have a sense that this is the direction that a lot of education is going,” Karen Conner, one of the course's instructors along with Judi Harris, April Lawrence and Sara Gividen, said in the press release. “Blended learning is what I have experienced, and I really like it because it’s a combination of face-to-face and online, so you have the best of both worlds. I thought that was really a good fit for William & Mary given what I know about the William & Mary experience.”
The goal of the summer course is to prepare faculty members to teach their blended classes in 2013. Although the course includes technological training, it is mainly focused on instructional topics and how faculty members can use technology to achieve teaching goals.
“This course absolutely is about educational technologies, but it’s more about how you use them in instruction than the technologies themselves,” Harris, professor of education and Pavey Family Chair in Educational Technology, said in the release.
“We’re really trying to focus more on instruction because that’s really what they’re doing. They’re teaching,” said Harris. “But, obviously, it’s blended, so they need to learn how to use the technologies, not only in terms of their competence with using the technologies but also how to choose which technologies to use in which ways in terms of students learning.”
Some technologies faculty members are learning about include web-meeting program Adobe Connect, blogs, screen-recording programs, wikis and even Twitter. The class is also getting a first look at the upcoming version of Blackboard.
Participating faculty, from 10 units around campus, came into the class with a range of e-learning experience.
“This course was a fantastic opportunity to learn about blended learning by experiencing it firsthand and collaborating with colleagues from many areas on campus,” said Lee Anne Sulzberger, who is using the course to design activities for a graduate-level elective in the School of Education on creative strategies for inclusive schools. “Everything I am learning in the ePD course will improve the e-learning options that we provide for teachers and administrators.”
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