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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

Blended Course Design for Multi-Campus Technology Instruction: Successes and Lessons Learned

Evelyn Thrasher (Western Kentucky University, USA)
Jeff Willis (Western Kentucky University, USA)
Additional Authors
Phillip Coleman (Western Kentucky University, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2014 - 4:30pm
Blended Models and Course Design
Areas of Special Interest: 
Innovative Blends
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Innovation and Experimentation
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Governor's Square 15
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Information Session 3
Virtual Session

This presentation shares the results of an experimental blended course design that combines online and synchronous technology instruction across four geographically dispersed computer classrooms.

Extended Abstract

Providing high quality instruction and equitable course offerings for all students can be a daunting task for any university with multiple, geographically dispersed campuses. For many universities, this is addressed with online courses and a limited number of face-to-face courses at each campus. In an effort to provide students at remote campuses with more Bachelor degree options, the Computer Information Systems Department at Western Kentucky University is revising its Business Informatics program to enable remote campus students to complete their major courses jointly with their main campus classmates. Beginning in Spring 2014, Business Informatics courses will employ an innovative blended course design that combines online components with synchronous instruction across computer classrooms on four geographically dispersed campuses. This initiative has taken months of preparation, discussion, planning, and testing, as we must address a variety of potential problems due to the technology-intensive nature of these courses.

A single faculty member on the main campus will teach a complex, highly interactive course that requires students at all four locations to complete computer-based activities and projects both simultaneously with the instructor and on their own outside of class. For instance, a typical face-to-face class session may require students to complete an Excel spreadsheet assignment with the instructor, as he/she works through each step. This in-class activity will be reinforced by an outside assignment or project of a similar nature to be completed individually or in teams. While this may seem fairly standard for technology education, doing so in this instance requires that every computer in every computer classroom have a standard set of applications, the same look and feel, and the same navigation. In addition, the face-to-face sessions will be conducted through interactive video services (IVS), meaning that students at three of the four campuses will be participating remotely, without easy access to a faculty member in the same classroom. In addition to IVS, faculty and students will employ a number of resources to enable interaction and communication in and out of the classroom, such as TeamViewer, Camtasia, Blackboard, Skype, Adobe Connect, PortableApps, and social media.

In addition to the technology requirements for each course, faculty will need to consider a highly flexible course design to allow for problems that may occur, such as a single campus closed for bad weather, problems with network access in one or more classrooms, or a classroom computer image that gets altered without notice. As anyone who has used technology for instruction can attest, things do happen that require quick thinking and a plan B. But, imagine multiplying the problems of a single classroom by four, and this will provide an idea of the myriad problems that may be experienced across four campuses throughout a semester. Thus, faculty are building redundancy and remediation into their course designs, such as recording class sessions to post on Blackboard, creating supplemental instructions and lectures, keeping the class schedule dynamic, using social media for quick communication, and periodically evaluating student progress to make necessary adjustments.

Throughout the term, the faculty and technology support personnel will chronicle the good, the bad, and the ugly of this blended course design that seems to have "everything but the kitchen sink". We will organize and summarize these observations to provide an informative look at what worked, what did not work, and what we learned from this experiment. In this presentation, we will share our course design, our findings and observations, and the feedback of the students. We will offer a brief presentation with plenty of time for questions and answers with the audience. In addition, we will use a Powerpoint presentation and will be happy to make it available through the conference website to be accessed at any time.

Lead Presenter

Dr. Thrasher specializes in the areas of information systems business value, the impact of information systems in healthcare, and the use of information technology in education. Her current research focuses on the strategic integration of organizations and information technology resources in healthcare delivery networks.

Dr. Thrasher teaches a variety of courses in the Information Systems field including Systems Analysis and Design, Communication for Systems Management Professionals, and Computer Information Systems. She has eleven years experience as a systems analyst with Eastman Chemical Company, where she worked with the financial department and the executive management team on ERP implementation, executive decision support, database design, and global telecommunications.