Terry O. Faulkner

Creative Content Expert | Wordsmith

UCF/Educause Blended Learning Designer Badge

The Blendkit2016 course is complete and I earned my Blended Learning Designer Badge from UCF/Educause. This badge brings me one step closer to realizing my dream of becoming a full-time instructional designer in Denver, Colorado. Congrats to my colleague Martin who is also aiming in a similar direction. We are both now ready to tackle the “Yeungnam University Foreign Language Institute Handbook for Faculty” which we will transform into an online training program for new hires at our university. Our next step is to determine whether or not the eLearning department here will allow us to use their authoring software and if not, how much we will need to spend to create the course.

Blendkit2016; Reading Reaction: Quality Assurance

2000px-PDCA_Cycle.svg.pngThis week I will answer two questions most pertinent to the course I am currently designing:

  • How will you know whether your blended learning course is sound prior to teaching it and with which of your trusted colleagues might you discuss effective teaching of blended learning courses?

The first question is really a reflective, introspective question that most designers would answer in a way similar to “Of course, it’ll be sound, I’ve put my effort and care into it, how could it not be sound?” Standards are arguably the best way to gauge whether one’s course is sound and if it actually does what it set out to do. Herein lies the problem; most of the research about defining standards says that there are no real standards yet. Yes there are generic standards that might suggest that a course is good or not but it is a challenge in a field that is so new and still growing to have such clearly defined standards neatly set in place.

Although there are a few universities with guidelines as to what defines minimum acceptability, these guidelines are painted with such broad strokes that they need to be articulated for them to work for any particular course. The standards for a course like sexual harassment training will differ tremendously for a course built around math concepts.

The article highlights three challenges to setting standards for courses along a broad spectrum. One that there is no governing body to address all the standards for each and every course on offer, two is that creating tools to assess and manage course standards would be difficult if such a governing body did exist and three it would be time-consuming to apply this tool to all the courses in a particular institution or system.

As far as colleagues are concerned, that’s an easy one. My friend and colleague Martin Tuttle and I have been working together now on similar projects for a couple months and we’re both heading in similar career directions so it has been good to have someone with whom I can share ideas and get good, critical advice.

Blendkit2016: Reading Reaction 4

This week I will answer two questions as part of the reading reaction for week four in the Blendkit2016 MOOC.

  • How will you present content to students in the blended learning course you are designing? Will students encounter content only in one modality (e.g., face-to-face only), or will you devise an approach in which content is introduced in one modality and elaborated upon in the other? What will this look like?

The Sexual Harassment Compliance Training (SHCT) will be presented in two modalities. The first will be held synchronously through a live face-to-face seminar with the SME Ms. Moon, who is head of the Gender Equality Department here at Yeungnam University in South Korea. The face-to-face modality will occur at the end of the Spring Semester and will require one hour of our learners’ time. We will introduce key concepts and host a Q&A for participants who wish to learn more. There will also be an online asynchronous portion of the course where learners can log on and complete the training at a time that best suits them.

  • Will there be a consistent pattern to the presentation of content and how can you ensure that students experience your course as one consistent whole rather than as two loosely connected learning environments?

There will be consistency with regards to how content, learning activities and submissions will be presented. As Dee Fink suggested in his Learning Activities for Active Holistic Active Learning Chart (2003), the content we provide will be from primary data and sources. As far as online learning goes, it will be available through the university’s LMS and students will be able to engage in indirect experiences through varied “what would you do?” scenarios.

Learning_activities1.JPGSource: Significant Learning Experience by Dee L. Fink (2003)  

I think the biggest challenge for the SHCT course and highlighted throughout the article is ensuring that content from the online and the face-to-face portions are well-integrated. It would be ideal to present the online course first and then hold the seminar so that learners would know what to expect. We are considering creating a survey for participants to ask them what specifics they would like to know more about before the face-to-face seminar.

Finally, using Laurillard’s Conversation Model, we will use “Adaptive” activity types where the learners must make decisions in non-static environments as well as “Experiential” activities where they will practice, apply and explore situations and/or harassment scenarios that require real-world solutions. Overall, we hope to blend the two modalities seamlessly but that also requires some technological proficiency and much of the modern software tools used in our field have steep learning curves. Those challenges notwithstanding,  I am optimistic that we can create a memorable and well-integrated course for our learners.


Blendkit2016: Reading reaction Week Three

In response the #Blendkit2016 course week three concerning assessments. I’m going to focus on questions raised from the reading most importantly:

  • How well does your course make connections between learning objectives and course activities, and how do you implement formal and informal assessments of learning into your blended learning course? Do these all take place face-to-face, online, or in a combination?

In my courses whether they are strictly face-to-face or blended are usually introduced by telling the students what they should expect form the course and the usefulness of the content that they can either take with them or ignore.  Most students in South Korean universities are taking English because it is a required course. By the time they reach my classroom most are burnt out from the previous twelve years of intensive English from both school and from after-school academies all in preparation for the holy grail of entrance exams, the Suneung 

Learning objectives are some of the first concepts introduced and are constantly reinforced either by formative assessments or by assignments. Each module has a grammar target, vocabulary relevant to the topics and a list of abilities that the student should be able to perform after each chapter. Bloom’s taxonomy is generally the best choice for creating attainable learning targets and the online portion of the course addresses the learning targets from each module.

The summative section of the course comes in the form of two face-to-face spoken exams with me either with a partner or a group as well as two written exams given for both midterm exams and finals. The spoken section allows the student to choose from a battery of questions (of varying complexity) and a test blueprint (rubric) from which students know exactly what is expected. The written exam is a test created by all the professors on staff and includes a multiple choice, listening, short-answer and essay question section. While I can create online quizzes (I do), we are given a very small portion of percentage to which we can assign points whereas the midterm and final exam sections account for 70 percent of the final grade which leaves a very small portion for attendance and participation (under which all online content falls).

My Korean students are pretty tech-savvy and had very little difficulty logging in and adding content and participating. There is along way to go before Korean universities will begin running more blended courses as my course is a voluntary application of the blended model.

Mixmap: Elements of Blended Learning

This is a mix-map which is used to inform the instructor about decisions in what will happen in face-to-face interactions (classroom) and online. It’s a bit like a storyboard and helps illustrate what will happen and how the forms of instruction will complement each other. This is for #Blendkit2016IMG_6064

Reading Reaction 2 (March 3, 2016)

In this reading, I really felt like each of the four models had something that appealed to my style of teaching and therefore immediately became relevant to what I do. Letting students be their own learners or to let them construct their own learning empowers them and moves further away from the teacher-centered classroom. Whether I am a curator, administrator or custodian, I am not the only person with power and act instead as a guide.

This article also spoke to me because I am an ESL/EFL teacher and my entire teaching career has been directed at students who do not speak English as their first language and this is where asynchronous activities come in handy. It allows more thought and time to get the instructions or to complete activities and I agree that student confidence is boosted with enough time and effort.

On the other hand, if my classes were entirely online, perhaps students would feel disconnected if they never met me or sat down and spoke with their classmates. The classes I currently teach are mostly face to face it does as the article states, provides a sense of community in the classroom.

Reaction to Blended Learning Reading

To begin I would like to answer one of the questions from the first reading of the #Blendkit2016 course. In what ways can blended learning be considered the “best of both worlds?”  What could make Blended Learning the “worst of both worlds?”

Using my reaction from the article and my own personal experience in blended learning (BL), I think BL can appeal to the different ways that people like to study. Some prefer to be in the classroom while others would like to access content from the comfort of their own homes and at their own pace(s). Students can get a taste of both methods and decide which one works best for them.

BR could also become less than desirable when a designer or instructor believes that online learning might makes their lives easier and they create poorly constructed content. It’s very easy to get comfortable in education and some educators, trainers, or even designers might see creating online content as a way to spend less time in class. Other problems might arise as the article states when objectives are not clearly identified before the creation of the course content.

Ideally, a designer would use a methodology such as ADDIE, Action Mapping or SAM to identify the best ways to get the ideas across as effectively as possible.