Week 5 reading reflection – #Blendkit2015

This week’s reading is about quality assurance in blended learning courses. I have to say, this reading is perfect for being the last in the course because it really does culminate everything we have learned and making sure all the elements we used to design our courses fall together in the best quality possible.

Okay, this week I will again answer the questions to ponder and give a couple of comments about segments in the reading. But it will mostly be answers to the questions. So here goes!

  • How will you know whether your blended learning course is sound prior to teaching it?

By conducting and teaching a pilot of a module in either the current f2f course being taught or on a few of my colleagues at work, who are also in faculty development. Piloting modules could be very beneficial for the instructor preparing to go full throttle and teach the entire course blended because it allows for formative student feedback and it gives ample time and space for any drastic changes that need to be made before going ahead and offering the whole course in a blended mode of instruction.

  • How will you know whether your teaching of the course was effective once it has concluded?

I plan to do a mid-semester survey and a Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID), both of which are conducted in the middle of the semester and are formative to allow for any changes or adaptations to be made to benefit the current group of students taking the course. As well as an end of semester feedback focus group or detailed evaluation, which of course does not benefit the current group of students but hopefully the mid semester assessment would and this of course will fuel any changes or alterations/enhancements of the course for the following group. All forms of assessment/evaluation/feedback will be anonymous to ensue and aid student honesty. The way the SGIDs are conducted in my university is by having a faculty developer come in class, in the absence of the course instructor, and ask students about the things that helps them learn in the course and the improvements they wish to have. The faculty developer then compiles a report of what was said in the session with a transcript of students’ responses as well as a summary and recommendations section written by the developer for the professor.

  • With which of your trusted colleagues might you discuss effective teaching of blended learning courses? Is there someone you might ask to review your course materials prior to teaching your blended course? How will you make it easy for this colleague to provide helpful feedback?

With a couple of my colleagues. One is actually my boss who has taken Blendkit a few years ago and a colleague who has received the SLOAN C blended and online learning course design certification whose course I am actually adopting and redesigning as blended for this MOOC, so I’m sure he would have a lot to say about the way I’m basically ripping and tearing and redesigning his course! So I think that’s a good combination because one will focus more on the technical and instructional design element and the other will look at the content and how the course objectives and learning outcomes align with the way the course is designed. Course content would be available online in a platform agreed upon and feedback would be either face to face or online depending on the most preferred and convenient platform for everyone. We all work really well both f2f and online, so I guess it will probably be determined by time and scheduling matters.

  • How are “quality” and “success” in blended learning operationally defined by those whose opinions matter to you?

Success would be that the course achieves the learning outcomes and the objectives determined by the instructor and the department, which need to include outcomes that are not only related to the course content but also to life long skills and professional development. Success would also be how much students have enjoyed the course. Quality would be if the course follows the evaluation criteria the university Online and Blended Learning Committee along with the CLT designed for evaluation and vetting blended learning courses. I think flexibility of the instructor to change or alter some aspects of the course to fit the learners’ needs should be on the quality evaluation list.

  • Has your institution adopted standards to guide formal/informal evaluation?

Yes, the Blended and Online Learning committee mentioned earlier developed this evaluation criteria for vetting blended courses. Also, CLT offers formal as well as informal assessment of courses upon the instructor’s request. Mid semester surveys to SGIDS to focus groups with the students are examples of such assessment. There are also end of semester evaluations, which are more institutionalised and mandatory for every class (not by request such as the formative assessment examples aforementioned). There are more standardised and legitimate. Not that the assessments mentioned aren’t legitimate but these do not count as formal and institutional ways of evaluating a course instructor, they are only upon the professor’s request and do no count towards their AFRs or appraisals.

I think the answer to the final question could be collected from my answers to the previous questions, so instead of just repeating things I’ve already said, I’ll more on to commenting on a passage I from the reading:

“Writing personal teaching goals is one more practice you can try as you prepare the online environment and the materials and activities to go in it. Creating an online teaching journal allows you to track your thoughts and actions over time. Including personal teaching goals among the first entries will get you off to a good beginning.”

I really like this suggestion. Pairing that with reflection can immensely help personal and professional development and growth. I think for anybody who wishes to advance or develop in their professional field regardless of their job this would be very helpful. I would definitely suggest this to staff members professionally developing just as much as for professors trying new things. One of the most important elements on this journal or writing goals practice is reflection though.

That’s basically it for this chapter, more end of course reflection comping up soon though!

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