I would utilize activity level blending in my course to either bring in a guest speaker or show a video of a guest speaker to help create a face to face and CM experience.
I think all instructors teaching on line need to be of the “enabling blend”. We all need to be understanding of the fact that there are kids who learn via different methods. I think taking a course online exacerbates the learning differences from student to student. As an instructor, we need to cater to those differences and make communication as clear and concise as possible, eliminating all ambiguity wherever possible. Blended learning helps facilitate this. Some students learn best face to face and some learn most optimally when given the opportunity to learn online; either self paced or course directed.
All three learning options described in chart 1.1 on page 13 of the Handbook of Blended Learning impact the way we teach on. I think that most instructors are already integrating the “enabling blends” into their courses. Programs such as Blackboard provide an efficient way to integrated blended learning. I often post my power points and vital class information in blackboard. I think most colleges and universities are requiring the use of a student: instructor interface to ensure students receive the course syllabus and course information as well as other integral information such as power points, paper and project instructions and links to labs or journal articles.
I also think “enabling enhanced blends” is also often used. I post additional information, journal articles or activities and explain to my students that if you are interested in this topic please see the additional information offered in Blackboard.
I think “transforming blends” is a method by which to teach and learn. I think this option is truly the most optimal way for students to truly understand the course information. This method forces students who want to be successful to put in time and effort to learn the concepts. This teaching option also allows the students a method by which to apply the learned information. While the instructor may provide basic information, the student is fully required to put the effort in to master the concept.
In learning to teach online, it seems like a natural transition for an instructor to transition from “enabling blends” to “enabling enhanced” to “transforming blends”. As the instructor becomes more comfortable with online instruction, it would be a natural and easy progression from just utilizing a basic interface with basic information to an advanced online course.
I think the hardest challenge to face is the “Role of Learner and Self-Regulation.” Often times, when I teach online or via blended learning, the students who perform the worst do not take the time to complete the requirement work. Some claim to not know where to find the syllabus or that there is information regarding course work in the syllabus. Some students start off strong and then by the middle of the course, their participation and performance drastically fall off. This often leads to failure of the course. Most often, students who enroll in these online courses engage in them because if the flexibility and awareness that this learning style suites the student best.
I think that, to an extent, every instructor faces all of the challenges listed in the chart of the handbook. One of the challenges that I think I identify most with and might influence how I plan my course is the balance between innovation and production. As an online instructor, I am always looking for new ways to present the same old information. I am also always searching for new programs and applications for the students to apply the information learned in the course. Upon critique of my online teaching methods, sometimes I find myself asking the question, “this is innovative, but is it the best way to teach this information?”. Some courses cater to more innovative teaching, while others are best taught with more basic methods.
The “Methods for Training and Support” challenge is also a challenge that I might encounter while teaching online. Teaching online does take more time that teaching face to face. There is a lot more prep time for instructors as everything in the course need to be typed up and available online. I think there is a fallacy out there that teaching online takes less time and is easier. Honestly, it takes much more prep time before the course starts to rewrite all course material to create an “online” version. Also, the instructor must be available for a large chunk of time each day to answer emails, provide answers to questions, to direct group discussion and to assist with technological difficulties. Technology is a challenge in online courses. On top of longer prep time, an instructor needs to be very organized when it comes to course material presentation. Many students will not search through material to find the proper material for a certain lecture. If the information can’t be found immediately after the opening the course content, most students will give up. Students often read in a “T” shape. If the information the student is looking for is not a folder title or bolded, the student will most likely miss the information and not complete the assignment.
As new technology and teaching methods are available to teach online, I would be sure to take some professional development courses to learn new methods.