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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

Onboarding Blended Learning Culture in Hybrid and Face-to-Face Courses

Paula Porter (Keiser University, USA)
Pamela Johnston (Keiser University, USA)
Session Information
July 7, 2015 - 1:00pm
Institutional Leadership & Strategy
Areas of Special Interest: 
Institutional Initiatives
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Best Practices
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Plaza Court 3
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Concurrent Session 1

Creating a campus of hybrid and blended learning has grown from 50 students to 600 students with 180 course offerings a semester.

Extended Abstract

University faculty are hired for their competence and expertise in their fields. Unfortunately, few have had any training in teaching methodologies, student assessment and learning, and often resort to the familiar methods in which they were taught. Most college courses are either classroom based or totally online taught. Generally only online faculty have any experience using a learning management system, so convincing, converting and training classroom faculty often meets with opposition. Faculty often have to be sold on the idea and benefits of blended learning. At the Fort Myers Campus of Keiser University, which was officially launched in late 2010, the dean of academics, Pam Johnston, was able to build a hybrid/blended learning campus from the ground up. With administrations blessing, she was able to not only recruit and maintain a faculty base open to the idea of hybrid and blended learning, but work with a teaching and learning coordinator to develop strategies and training to keep faculty and students engaged in the learning process. It all starts with the interview process to find and hiring faculty who are passionate about learning and engaging their students. Faculty from the start are encouraged to work across the disciplines. For instance, allied health faculty work cooperatively with general education faculty to develop cross course learning opportunities.
One of the key hires was a faculty member who worked at bringing blended learning to another campus within the Keiser system. Dr. Porter had some success in bringing many reluctant faculty on board to blended learning and used the techniques to encourage and engage faculty that had proven successful at the another Keiser campus. Though not mandated, 43% of the faculty at this previous campus created some type of online companion-based learning to complement their courses. Many were robust and even included student assignments that could only be completed with interaction in the classroom and in the companion course.
The overall plan for the new campus was two pronged _ to train new faculty over their first semester of teaching with Keiser how to engage and adapt blended learning techniques and to continue with monthly professional development sessions for all faculty. First, in order to gain faculty buy in to the process, an end-of-the-year faculty focus session was held. Faculty were split into diverse groups to discuss what they wanted to learn in the professional development in the coming upcoming year. Their choices were prioritized and a series of 12 sessions were developed with on campus faculty, members from the Office of the Chancellor, and outside experts. The following year, new formats of flipping professional development was added so they could actively engage is learning sessions and understand the power to adapt these activities in their own classrooms. For the new year, flipping professional development is still a focus, but faculty were again encouraged at a focus session to input their choices for professional development learning and a schedule developed.
New faculty training sessions last for one semester. Sessions are held once a month and involve an introduction to the campus and staff, campus policies and procedures, teaching methodologies, introduction to blended learning and the Blackboard system, and hands on sessions to create learning materials using simple to use web-based tools like Thinglink and Blendspace. All current faculty are encouraged to attend and update their own skills.
The final step in the process the culture of blended learning is focused on student learning. The Fort Myers Keiser Campus has a majority of non traditional students, most working adults who need to schedule family and jobs around their education. Research has demonstrated that these students want consistency so faculty have worked together to establish across the board expectations of late papers, as well as applying campus and university expectations and use of a university-wide syllabus structure. Another benefit was the creation of an Academic Success Center. The ASC developed a series of eight learning sessions offered each month to help students with studying, taking notes, taking exams, critical thinking, etc. A second series of eight courses presented one month of each semester focuses on skills the older adult student may need, including computer skills, how to schedule studying and family and job conflicts, etc. In addition, the TLC, the Academic Success Center, and the campus library staff have developed consistent learning materials for APA style, writing, conducting research, etc. The materials are available to the students in the ASC, the library, in their courses, and in every blended learning course. In addition, to provide the consistency students want and need, each campus course, hybrid and companion, has a section for campus help and links and for easy downloads and links for research and writing. The design of the Blackboard companion courses are also designed to imitate the look and feel of both the hybrid and online courses so there is additional consistency.