Managing a blended learning course requires the educator to wear many hats. The common threads to many of these “hats” are communication and preparation.
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Communication will be essential for establishing expectations, eliminating uncertainty, and appeasing potential student anxiety. Throughout the blended learning experience, communication can also take a number of forms such as email, phone calls, texts, participation in discussion boards, etc. Yet, regardless of the mode, communication must remain both concise and consistent.
Critical to communication will be a clear and shared vision of the course’s structure; an understanding of methods and modes of communication itself; reminders key dates and events; outlaying expectations for assignments, activities, and corresponding evaluations.
In preparing for our blended course and its many components, proactive investments made upfront will definitely pay off throughout the course’s delivery and evaluation. There are several things an instructor can do to prep for a blended course before the beginning of the school year. First, spend some time considering the class rules and create a draft document that you can review with students in the first week, or plan a lesson where students generate their own list of class expectations. Also, consider how you will ensure that all class work done in the online environment will remain secure and protected, and plan a strategy for how you will address any instance of data being breached. Setting the rules and expectations for students, and plans for data security in the beginning of the course will go a long way towards encouraging academic honesty in your course.
In addition, Blackboard offers a number of tools that you can take advantage of this summer to help better prepare for your blended course next year. Check out the performance dashboard, a Blackboard tool that can help you manage your students’ progress and activity. Setting up grading rubrics, progress reports, and early intervention plans are just some of the ways you can proactively help students stay on track with their academics. Blackboard also features a calendar that can help both teachers and students with deadlines and time management if set up prior to the school year and maintained throughout.
With both preparation and communication in mind, utilize this rubric and the resources below to write a reflection on resources related to at least 3 of the following management strategies as a blended/ online instructor.