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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

Lessons Learned From Blending in Health Sciences: Crafting a Course Model for Student Success

Paige McDonald (The George Washington University, USA)
Laurie Lyons (George Washington University, USA)
Howard Straker (George Washington University, USA)
Bryan Walker (The George Washington University, USA)
Elizabeth Ruckert (The George Washington University, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2014 - 8:30am
Blended Models and Course Design
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Best Practices
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Interactive Workshop
Governor's Square 15
Session Duration: 
90 Minutes
Workshop Session 1
Virtual Session

The workshop presents evidence-based best practices for blending in disciplines reliant upon traditional models of content delivery. Participants develop a course model incorporating best practices.

Extended Abstract

Context and Problem:

Blended learning models offer the promise of negotiating the tension between increasing class sizes and the need for active learning strategies in Health Sciences disciplines, particularly given limited program faculty and faculty resources. Moreover, blending can assist faculty in negotiating the tension between growing amounts of content for entry-level professional practice and the need for learners to perform higher order thinking that represents what is required in future clinical practice. However, crafting a blended model appropriate to pedagogical goals and learner expectations can prove challenging in disciplines where both students and faculty are heavily reliant upon traditional delivery models. Adopting a blended learning approach in Physician Assistant (PA) and Physical Therapy (PT) courses at The George Washington University has posed challenges and presented successes. Course redesigns were accomplished through partnerships between faculty and instructional designers. Lessons learned from redesigning these courses and research on curriculum design and educational theory (such as adult learning theory), suggest best practices for crafting blended learning models aligned with program curricula, pedagogical goals, and students' preferences and needs.


The workshop will begin with a presentation of different blended models used in PA and PT courses to explain the pedagogical goals associated with each model and how the model did or did not align with learner expectations. We will then present data from which we derived best practices for blended learning models aligned with program curricula, pedagogical goals, and students' needs and preferences. Attendees will participate in a workshop using the guidelines to design a blended model suited to their course, its placement in their curricula, and anticipation of students' needs. Participants will share their blended course design in small groups to receive feedback regarding course structure, learner centered instruction, and potential challenges for implementation

Workshop Objectives:

•Discuss how pedagogical goals influenced selection of blended models in PA and PT courses
•Review lessons learned from research on blending in Health Science courses including:
-How course placement in curricula influenced satisfaction with
blended model
-How student expectations of learning process influenced satisfaction
with blended learning
-How technology aligned with pedagogical goals
-How amount/types of technology and placement of technology
reflected students' experience levels with using technology in learning
•Review best practices on course design derived from lessons learned from the literature and in practice at The George Washington University
•Apply best practices to develop a blended model unique to participant's course

Audience Engagement:

This session reviews different approaches to blending in Health Science courses at The George Washington University, offering attendees the opportunity to apply our lessons learned to develop a model aligned with their pedagogical goals and anticipated learner needs and preferences. Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss anticipated challenges to adoption of blended models in their courses.

Lead Presenter
Paige McDonald

Paige McDonald (The George Washington University, USA)

Paige McDonald, EdD is the Director of Health Sciences Core Curriculum and Visiting Assistant Professor of Clinical Research and Learning at The George Washington University. She is currently working to promote blended learning and to develop blended courses in Health Science disciplines. Paige's research interests include blended learning, adult learning, reflective practice, and course design for higher levels of learning.

Laurie Lyons

Laurie Lyons (George Washington University, USA)

Laurie B. Lyons is the Director of Instructional Technology and Design for the Health Sciences Programs at the George Washington University, which encompasses both on-campus and distance health science programs. She previously worked with an interdisciplinary group of faculty to convert a federally funded two-semester face-to-face training program to a blended format. Laurie has a Master's degree in Educational Technology Leadership from the George Washington University and is certified as an online facilitator for the Quality Matters Applying the Rubric Online Workshop.


Howard Straker (George Washington University, USA)



Bryan Walker (The George Washington University, USA)


Elizabeth Ruckert

Elizabeth Ruckert (The George Washington University, USA)

Dr. Ruckert is Assistant Professor in the Program in Physical Therapy at The George Washington University. A board-certified Neurologic and Geriatric Clinical Specialist, Dr. Ruckert teaches in the neurologic, geriatric and clinical conference courses utilizing a variety of blended learning strategies. Dr. Ruckert completed her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, and went on to complete her neurologic residency at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In June 2013, she completed George Washington (GW) University’s Master Teacher Leadership Development Program, a year-long faculty fellowship focused on excellence in teaching for health science educators. A recent GW University grant has enabled Dr. Ruckert and a team of individuals from disciplines across the University to develop computer-assisted learning modules as part of the PT acute care curriculum. Dr. Ruckert has presented multiple peer-reviewed presentations at national conferences regarding teaching and learning in graduate physical therapy education. She is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association, and serves on the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties Credentialing Services Committee.