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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Facilitating the Leap Into Blended Teaching

Rayane Fayed (American University of Beirut, Lebanon)
Additional Authors
Rana Haddad (American University of Beirut, Lebanon)
Hossein Hamam (American University of Beirut, Lebanon)
Session Information
April 23, 2012 - 5:30pm
Faculty Development and Support
Areas of Special Interest: 
Institutional Initiatives
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Poster Session
Executive A-D
Session Duration: 
60 Minutes

To propagate Blended Teaching at the American University of Beirut, we embarked on a campus-wide initiative to assess the status of Web-Enhanced courses

Extended Abstract

As we start our fifth delivery of the Blended Course Redesign workshop at the American University of Beirut (AUB), which is a prerequisite for faculty members to teach Blended courses at the university, we are faced with low enrollment numbers. There are two reasons behind such an unsatisfactory participation rate; first, most AUB faculty members are simply not well prepared to take on Blended Teaching. Second, there is a lack of top-down support from university administration to nurture and grow Blended Learning institution wide. Looking at both reasons, we conclude that solving the first problem will eventually solve the second, since faculty members are the ones who influence the university administration to change policies and procedures. With that said, strategically seeking out faculty members who are on the right path to Blended Teaching seems to be the ultimate first step. Our most obvious challenge is that, with only three instructional designers working with 730 full-time/part-time faculty members, 7 faculties and 92 departments is not just difficult but impossible. Our initiative is to assess the status of all Web-Enhanced courses at AUB in order to recruit potential candidates for Blended Course Redesign and prepare others to partake on this path in the future. This initiative was introduced based on literature that clearly states that the main prerequisite for teaching Blended courses is starting with a solid understanding of teaching in a Web-Enhanced environment. The most credible way for us to assess the status of Web-Enhanced courses at AUB is to look at the current courses taught through the university Learning Management System (Moodle) that are using interactive activities like Discussion Forums, Assignments and Online Quizzes, etc. and evaluate their design, delivery and effectiveness. Only then, will we be able to truly understand the status of Web-Enhanced teaching institution-wide. This will also better prepare faculty members for Blended Course Redesign. This is our Web-Enhanced Project at AUB. The Web-Enhanced Project at AUB evaluates the current status of all courses on Moodle. It is an evaluation of the faculty members' skills when it comes to effectively integrating technology in education. It identifies the weaknesses in the teaching methods of faculty members and what can be done to improve them. Needless to say, it also shines a light on those who are excelling in using sound pedagogy in their teaching. And finally, It showcases to the administration the faculty members' efforts in advanced teaching methodologies and innovative approaches to reaching out to students. To achieve the aforementioned objectives, we created a rubric that looks into four main elements: General Course Design and Layout, Communication, Collaboration and Interaction, Student Assessment and Diversity of Learning Styles and Content. Courses were evaluated and graded out of 81. The results helped us to clearly identify the weak points in the delivery of Web-Enhanced courses. So now we could target our training toward specific topics and needs. The results show that there is a campus wide problem when using Rubrics, in assessment, in course design, etc. so to address these issues; work was done on an individual level and on a departmental level. Workshops targeting specific topics like rubrics and assessment were offered to faculty members. Departments who got a low grade in a specific item were contacted and support was offered. In addition to identifying the weak points, the results also identified faculty members who are exceling in their use of technology, and now they are considered as lone riders on campus. The introduction of the Web-Enhanced project as a stepping-stone to Blended Learning proved to be the key to optimizing the Instructional Designers' strategy. Furthermore, with 177 courses currently on their way to being redesigned into effective Web-Enhanced courses, AUB has now closed the gap between traditional Face-to-Face teaching and Blended Teaching hence facilitating for faculty members, the leap into Blended Learning. In addition to our presentation, our suggested session will include hands-on practice on evaluating a Web-Enhanced course using our developed rubric. In our research leading to this initiative, we failed to find a rubric designed to assess the types of Web-Enhanced courses at our university and a similar initiative taken by other institutions. Hence, we believe that this initiative and its results will prove to be beneficial for other Higher Education Institutions that are leaping into Blended Teaching.