Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning

I would say I am an advocate for blended learning, especially Blended Learning 2.0 where digital tools and the Internet is interwoven into the learning flow of the module. 

Although video recordings of lectures conducted (either in person or via Zoom) are usually provided for students, the idea of Blended Learning 2.0 is broader and includes asynchronous and synchronous components similar to how a flipped classroom is typically practiced. There will be elements of technology-enabled learning and teaching as well as traditional in person interaction between teacher/facilitator and students. 

Here I would like to share 1 of 3 modules which I have redesigned to align towards Blended Learning 2.0.

The main challenge of this particular module is to teach the National Society of Professional Engineering Code of Ethics which is dry to the students and a drudgery for the teacher. It is also my aim as the teacher to get these budding engineers to actually read the code for themselves and use it as a basis for how they conduct themselves professionally, ethically when they join the workforce. I have attempted several versions of module design and finally settled down to a 3rd version which worked out quite well in that, instead of explanation through every clause in the code, students will have to read it themselves in order to answer a set of true and false quiz prior to  the synchronous session (either in person or live via ZOOM).

In this present design, there are activities students have to do prior, during and after the live session. In the diagram below, there are also some techniques I have adopted to engage students by linking day-to-day ideas (e.g. Tag Line Opening games) as well as real case-studies (e.g. You be the Judge) as well as tutorials where students work in a small group setting of (2 or 3 to a group) to discuss, present, report on selected tutorial questions and a mini project. 

As this module is a core college-based module, all engineering students will go through this fully CA (100% continuous assessment) which require the support from colleagues from every department in the college/faculty. The number of students per enrolment is typically 600 to 700 and this module is offered every semester. 

What I learnt from the designing of this module are as follows:

1. Flipped online classroom format
    – It frees up time to allow for interaction between students and lecturer. Although somewhat stressful because you never know how the questions from students can be posed. Think of yourself as a facilitator who is also learning this wide area of Ethics. Students do appreciate your readiness to admit there are no straight answers for some situations and that we do not know everything about the topic. Always going back to using the Code as a basis to make a reasoned judgement on a certain ethical situation is already an outcome we would like students to have.

2. Getting students to read the Code (for themselves).
-That being wrong can be motivational. To be surprised that one can get a common-sense question wrong cause us to take a close look at the “facts” to see what went wrong. The set of TRUE/FALSE questions who slightly edited from the original wordings in the code but could change the nuance or spirit of the code hence, students who do not read the code properly could easily mistook a seemingly common-sense answer which inadvertently turns out to be wrong. Simple TRUE/FALSE questions are effective in highlighting salient points and enforcing deeper understanding. This promotes deeper thinking, discussions and engagement with the code.
Blended Learning allows a lot of freedom in designing the module to maximise on contact time with students and also to pass the responsibility of learning back to students while we engage them at a deeper level since they will come into class with some knowledge ready to be built upon.
In my opinion, Blended Learning 2.0 is the way to go.

1. Weller, M., van Ameijde, J. & Cross, S. (2018). Learning Design for Student Retention. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 6(2)

2. Conrad, D. & Openo, J. (2018). Strategies for Online Learning. Engagement and Authenticity. Edmonton: AU Press.

3. Kay, R., H. & Hunter, W. J. (Eds.). (2022). Thrivingonline: A guide for busy educators. Ontario TechUniversity

Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning