Well-intentioned blended learning initiatives often fail to achieve the desired course conversion or student success results because of an imbalance between central administrative oversight and ground-up faculty support.
One method of balancing both the interests of the institution and the curricular flexibility desired by faculty is to administer a provost-level grant program for course design innovation. By using targeted investments through an RFP process, the administration avoids interfering with uninterested instructors, while ensuring that willing faculty have plentiful support and recognition throughout the redesign and assessment process.
Redesign grant programs should prioritize proposals that meet the following criteria:
- Redesigns entire courses within a department, rather than individual sections
- Targets general education, introductory, and/or prerequisite gateway courses
- Targets courses with historically high DFW rates
- Targets high-enrollment courses
- Demonstrates support from departmental faculty, chairs, and deans
- Includes a plan for financial sustainability and/or an overall reduction in costs
- Describes how the course will use technology to reduce costs and improve outcomes
Once eligible courses are selected for revision, it is critical to provide faculty with resources and expertise to guide them through best practices in blended pedagogy in order to maximize the likelihood of the desired reduction in instructional cost and improvement in learning outcomes. Without adequate guidance, revamped courses may prove a daunting and difficult experience for both faculty and students, hampering progress across the institution.
Exemplar blended learning support
The University of Central Florida, a national leader in blended pedagogy, has compiled a Blended Learning Toolkit, which includes extensive resources designed to accelerate faculty comfort with and implementation of alternative instructional models.
EAB research has surfaced three high-level characteristics common to successful "high tech, high touch" blended instructional models which can help inform the design process.