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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

Creating a Culture of Blended: Defining IT and Moving Faculty Toward IT

Barbara Altman (Texas A&M University/Central Texas, USA)
Lisa Bunkowski (Texas A&M University Central Texas, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2014 - 5:30pm
Institutional Leadership and Strategy
Areas of Special Interest: 
Institutional Initiatives
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research and Evaluation
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Electronic Poster
Plaza Foyer
Session Duration: 
60 Minutes
Electronic Poster Session

This presentation covers the process and implementation strategy our newly accredited University used to define "blended" in a unique way, given current practice and scholarship

Extended Abstract

Context and Introduction

As an institution relatively new to online teaching, our university is well placed to design and deliver both "fully" face-to-face and/or "fully" online classes. Almost five years into online growth, with 12 fully online programs and 37% of our SCH (semester credit hours) online, the middle ground seems much less clear. Denoted as "Lecture with Online Components" or LOC, this designation is now the subject of analysis, examination and new approaches.

We began our online programs as a satellite campus of an affiliated University. Although we are separate, and independently accredited as of May 2013, our independent student registration system will not to go live until Fall 2014. As we are planning for this transition, it became obvious that we needed to explore our course modality descriptions and better define what we mean by the middle ground. A new designation is needed to better enable our students to understand the delivery options and for faculty to understand pedagogically where their courses "stood" for preparation purposes.

While one would like to think the literature would help define what these definitions of delivery modalities could/should be, in reality it is not so clear. In this case study we will present our struggle with these options, drawing on best practices literature, and our accrediting bodies' definitions, to define the proper categories for our institution. This poster session will also report how our faculty are currently using the "hybrid" and "blended" definition, based on qualitative theme analysis of course syllabi; the purpose of this internal study was to benchmark the training that will be needed to facilitate organizational change toward our new definition of the blended mode. Finally, we will conclude with the recommendations going forward within our own institution and how we plan to move faculty in the direction of these recommended categories via new training programs and recommended policy (standard academic procedure).


We began our online programs with three categories of delivery models: 1) Fully face-to-face (F2F) delivery; 2) Lecture with Online Components (LOC); and 3) 100% online.

The LOC category was not given a distinct definition, although the working definition was not more than 49% online. For several programs, most notably our graduate programs in Educational Administration and Business Administration, a well-defined cohort program called for face-to-face instruction on certain Saturdays, with the remainder of content available online. For the remainder of courses designated as LOC, faculty have not been required to publish the f2f dates or when online content is substituted, however, they have been strongly encouraged to lay this out in their Syllabi. As a teaching institution with a "student centered" mission, we felt strongly that this needed to change.

Approach/Case Study

We approached this issue simultaneously on three different fronts. First, an administrative task force was formed to look at registration issues and the new Banner system and which definitions would best serve the student population registering for courses. This administrative perspective also involved research into fee structures and what would best support the infrastructure needed for our LMS, training, student support, etc. for online courses.

A second group, our Distance Learning Advisory Committee (a cross-campus representative group of faculty and staff involved in distance education), approved a set of modality definitions to be taken to the university Academic Council and Faculty Senate. As background in developing these customized distinctions we drew on key literature (Bonk & Graham, 2005; Graham, 2013; McGee & Reis, 2012), online learning consortia (Allen et al., 2007; WCET Listserv, 2012) and definitions of our accrediting bodies (SACSCOC, THECB).

Finally, our newly formed Office of Instructional Enhancement and Innovation and the College Online Coordinators were responsible for designing an Implementation Plan for the new Blended course definition. It is this group that conducted the mini-study looking at current Syllabi and how the term "hybrid" and "blended" was being used in practice. This data set was critical to determining how to design training and course design/redesign programs going forward. Again, we wish to acknowledge that many "best practices" programs exist (e.g. Simmons College, University of Wisconsin/Madison) and we hope to not start completely from scratch. In fact, our first Blended Learning Workshop was designed in Summer 2013 and offered in August 2013. It is now being revamped, with an eye toward merging it with a "hands-on" redesigned academy with a combination approach; one which has also been informed by quality training in our fully online programs.

Results/Presentation Take-Aways

  • An administrative process for creating and implementing a unique Blended learning course designation at participant's own universities
    • - Lessons learned concerned what the best practices and research literature provides in such an effort
  • deas for organizational change efforts geared to training faculty on Blended Learning approaches
    • - Lessons learned from faculty developing their own definitions of Hybrid without administrative oversight
    • - Lessons learned from current best practices training programs
    • - Our organizational change lessons learned derived from implementation of quality online training programs to date


Allen, I.E., Seaman, J., & Garrett, R. (2007). Blending in: The extent and promise of blended education in the United States. Sloan Consortium and Babson Survey Research Group.

Bonk, C., and Graham, C. Handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs, San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer Publishing, 2005.

Graham, C. R. (2013). Emerging practice and research in blended learning. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance education (3rd ed., pp. 333-350). New York, NY: Routledge.

McGee, P. & Reis, A. (2012) Blended Course Design: A Synthesis of Best Practices. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16 (3) 7-22.

Simmons College Blended Learning Initiative. Overview - Learn How to Blend.

Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Colleges. (2012). Policy Statement on Distance Education.

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Texas Administrative Code - Approval of Distance Education Courses and Programs for Public Institutions, Rule 4.257, Definitions.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Learning Technology Center. Hybrid Course: Faculty Resources.

WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) Member Listserv (July 2012). Online and Blended (Hybrid) Definitions. Compiled by WCET Community.

Lead Presenter

Dr. Barbara W. Altman is an Assistant Professor in Management and the Online Coordinator for the College of Business Administration at TAMUCT. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Business Ethics, Leadership and Strategy. Her research interests are in corporate social responsibility, organizational change, inter-organizational partnerships, and the leadership traits necessary to facilitate such linkages. Her research interests also involve methods to improve online and blended course design and delivery.