From Classroom to Hybrid A Best Practices Guide to Converting Curriculum to a Blended-‐ Learning Environment
Gayle E. Morris
Benefits of Familiarity 3
Purpose of This Guide 3
FIRST STEPS 3
Why it Matters 4
How to Use Technology 4
Best Tools 5 Wikispaces 5 Mind Maps 5 Discussion Boards 5 SharePoint 5 Shared Server 5
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 6
As a Facilitator 6
What to Enhance 7
STUDENT PARTICIPATION 8
Why is this important? 8
How to Encourage Participation and Communication 8
Converting face-to-face training into blended learning can be a timesaving tool for everyone if it is done correctly. Using partially online training is a great way to make employees feel as though they are in control of their own learning, and it can keep the content fresh and interesting, thus making it more effective.
Benefits of Familiarity
One of the benefits you, as the creator of the training, have is that the employees are coming into this training with similar experiences and a common background – the company they all work for. This allows each trainee to be on the same level when beginning the training, which makes your job easier; there is little need for a whole analysis to be performed. The other plus is that this training previously existed, so in order to ensure an effective transition to blended learning style, there are only a few steps to be taken.
Purpose of This Guide
This guide will outline the most important facets of blended learning and how to successfully turn a face-to-face training session into a hybrid class. One of the most important things to note, however, is that the job of the instructor, or facilitator, does not become easier. It’s important not to become lazy simply because the employees will be completing some training on their own.
Organization is vital when creating anything at all. The benefit of creating online training out of something that exists is that you can lay it all out in front of you and simply reorganize.
It is important to note that each piece of the training must be completely developed and prepared. During the online parts of the training, you will not be able to verbally explain instructions if something is missing. The employees should have access to everything they will need, which is why uploading all materials to a server that employees have access to is a great idea. We will get into technology examples a little later.
Dr. George Piskurich highly suggests creating a storyboard when designing instruction (Laureate Education, n.d.). I think a storyboard would work well even though the instruction has already been created here; think of it as an outline to help you decide what parts of the training should be converted to online learning, and use it as a tool to help you to write and place objectives.
For planning purposes, you can use the following checklist to help you in your reorganization.
Planning Process Checklist Task Explanation Checkmark
Do I know who is taking the course? What is their background?
Have I outlined each module and the subject matter that will be covered?
Have I listed all objectives for each module and posted them where students can access them?
Have I compiled all the necessary resources? (Worksheets, technology, assignments, etc.)
Why it Matters
Technology has the power to transform a course into something more interesting than a lecture. It is recommended to use it in face-to-face courses, but it is entirely necessary for use in a blended learning course. Without technology, a course will usually fall flat.
How to Use Technology
There are some questions that you will need to ask yourself to assess the technology you’ve chosen for your course. Each piece of technology needs to meet the criteria for being useful.
Use the following table to help you decide if the technology you would like to use will be valuable in your training course.
Technology Checklist Question Explanation Checkmark
Is the ease of use at a beginner level?
Can students who have limited knowledge of technology use this tool?
Will this tool allow for collaboration?
Does this tool make it easy for students to work with one another or discuss topics as a group?
Will this tool work in both a face-to-face setting and outside the classroom?
Can I use this to enhance the face-to-face sessions as well as the online training?
Does this tool help me communicate with the learners?
Does this tool allow me to reach out to each learner?
The best technology tools for the course will depend on how you ultimately choose to set it up. Based on the preceding table, here are some suggestions for appropriate technology.
Wikispaces allows registered users to:
• collaboratively edit pages using our visual editor
• embed content from around the web, including videos, images, polls, documents, and more
• comment on sections of text or the entire page Wikispaces also allows the instructor to see who has done what work by using different colors for editing, and showing the participation of each person, which makes it an effective grading tool; the instructor can give participation points for each assignment. Wikispaces allows the students to create multiple pages and documents, so a final document can be uploaded for a grade.
Mind maps are a great tool for both instructors and students. An instructor can use a mind map to storyboard the course, and students can use them to storyboard assignments. Microsoft Word is a good free tool to use, but as for software for basic use, one of the best is bubbl.us. It is free software, with the option of paying for use. With the free version, a user can create up to three mind maps, share their map, or upload it to a website.
Discussion boards will facilitate guided discussion and give you a place to start each week. As a facilitator, you should post key points to discuss and the learners will be expected to take the conversation further from there. Discussions can also be graded, or used as level two evaluations.
SharePoint is a document-hosting site that allows multiple users to access information with one link. By uploading all learning tools to one place, each learner is able to utilize the tools whenever he or she needs them; this can be used for review, or a facilitator can post assignments on the site and require learners to access the shared site in order to complete the assignment.
If the company does not have access to a SharePoint hosting site but you still want to upload documents for easy access, a server will do the trick. If all students in the course are from a common group (same school, same employer, etc.), it may be easiest to use the server of their group, for example a university server or a company server.
What You Need to Know
As a Facilitator
There is a difference between being a classroom instructor and being the instructor for a blended, or hybrid, class. In a face-to-face setting the instructor is responsible for leading the class at all times, but in a hybrid course, your role will change to that of a facilitator.
As a facilitator, you will need to have an online presence. Even though you will still meet with the learners in person, it is imperative that you can be contacted via technology so that students may ask questions (Simonsen et al., 2012, p. 211).
Another major difference between being an instructor and a facilitator is that as an instructor, you can occasionally make up instruction as you go along. However, as a facilitator, you should know that all assignment that will take place online must be created prior to the beginning of the course and objectives should be in place and posted well in advance. You may also choose to go over technology use and technical requirements in class, but you should also post requirements online (Simonsen et al., 2012, p. 211).
Accoding to Bill Wilder and Tara Denton Holwegner (n.d.), there are eight competencies a facilitator is expected to have:
• Prepares for training delivery
• Creates a positive learning climate
• Establishes credibility as facilitator
• Adapts teaching to what participants know and how they learn
• Focus on learning objectives
• Facilitates learning by encouraging participation
• Employs a variety of teaching tools and techniques
• Ensures learning outcomes
The following table shows the major differences between an instructor and a facilitator.
Instructor Facilitator An instructor is a content resource. Process manager first, a content resource second. Shares their knowledge through writing or lectures
Facilitators use their knowledge of how people learn to create an active environment that embraces participants’ prior knowledge and unique learning style. “Sage on the stage” – passive participant “Guide by the side” – They engage the participant
in taking charge of their learning. Control what is taught and when Can control what is taught and when in some
instances, but not always.
**Information in table taken from Wilder and Holwegner (n.d.) article.
What to Enhance
When converting an already-existing class into a blended-learning class, it can be difficult to decide which portions to take out of the face-to-face learning sessions.
It can be beneficial to take evaluations and exams out of the classroom and allow students to complete these on their own time outside of the training session – this will allow more time for you to go over important concepts and explain the subject matter. It would also be beneficial to use scenario-based learning in your blended class so that students do not become bored. While you have the learners in your classroom, you can perform a scripted exercise with two students to demonstrate the communication principles you want them to learn, and then assign a task for them to complete outside of class. This task could be entirely online and could consist of scenario questions and multiple-choice answers.
The following is an example of a question you could ask.
1. Susie has a large project to complete but knows she will not meet her deadline, which is
one week away. Her boss, Mary, has no idea that Susie is feeling this pressure. In what way should Susie go about her week?
a. Susie should keep this information from Mary b. Susie should tell her coworkers and hope that someone offers to help her c. Susie should talk to Mary as soon as possible to let her know that she may not
meet the deadline d. It is not Susie’s responsibility at all. Mary should not have given Susie so much
work to begin with.
After students complete this assignment on their own, answers can be discussed in class and the scores can be used as a knowledge check.
Why is this important?
Without active participation from trainees, the class is entirely ineffective. Students will not absorb as much knowledge by sitting and listening and being disinterested; they need to be actively engaged in order to gain understanding of the topics discussed. In a face-to-face setting it may be somewhat simpler to keep students engaged, but the techniques change when it comes to online assignments. Students need to be prompted to begin a discussion, and they need to have access to resources and an attention-getting task so that they will actively participate and connect with one another.
How to Encourage Participation and Communication
As the facilitator of the training, it is your job to keep things moving, both inside and outside of the classroom. One way to do this is by utilizing a discussion board. It’s important to post questions that require students to do some research and dig deep so that they can answer questions and feed off one another. A key part of this is to require students to read the responses of their peers and respond.
A course facilitator must make students feel comfortable in their learning environment (Simonsen, et al., 2012, p. 201). When students are comfortable with the environment and their peers, they are more likely to become and stay engaged. Ice breakers can be performed during the classroom portion of the training so that students get to know one another and will subsequently feel more at ease working together.
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Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M. & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a
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Wikispaces. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.wikispaces.com/content/classroom/about
Wilder, B., & Holwegner, T. D. (n.d.). What is the difference between an instructor and a
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