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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

Preparing Writing Instructors for Blended Teaching and Learning

Felicita Arzu Carmichael (New Mexico State University, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2015 - 11:20am
Faculty Development & Student Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Best Practices
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Plaza Court 2
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Concurrent Session 6

This presentation proposes the implementation of a blended instruction training workshop for Writing Program instructors in the Department of English at New Mexico State University.

Extended Abstract

New Mexico State Universitys (NMSU) Writing Program is housed within the Department of English. The department offers six General Education courses. These courses include ENGL 111: Rhetoric and Composition (4 credits), ENGL 203: Business and Professional Communication (3 credits), ENGL 211: Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences (3 credits), ENGL 218: Technical and Scientific Communication (3 credits), ENGL 311: Advanced Composition (3 credits) and ENGL 318: Advanced Technical and Professional Communication. While there are a few online sections of each of the six courses, ENGL 111 is the only blended course with 3 of its four credits being face-to-face and 1 credit online; this 1 credit online component reduces the amount of classroom contact hours. Additionally, ENGL 111 is the only first-year writing course offered at NMSU, with up to seventeen sections being taught in a given semester. Unfortunately, however, the 1 credit online component of this course is often neglected, particularly because instructors are uncertain about how to effectively use Canvas (NMSUs learning management system) to teach writing and achieve course objectives. Moreover, at the beginning of the academic year, teaching assistants must complete a one week orientation where they are introduced to rhetoric, the field in which the Writing Program is embedded. During this orientation, very little attention is given to ENGL 111s online component or blended and online teaching in general.

In this presentation, I therefore propose the implementation of a training workshop for Writing Program instructors in the Department of English at New Mexico State University. I discuss workshop objectives, estimated costs, timeline, participants and evaluation, and I also share my developmental blended ENGL 111 course with attendees. The primary purpose of the training workshop is to engage instructors in active discussion about and prepare them for the special needs, benefits and constraints of the blended writing course in relation to student learning. Therefore, during the workshop, instructors will be asked to 1) evaluate their own teaching practices in the face-to-face class in an effort to realize how those teaching practices can manifest in the blended course, 2) consider the course objectives in order to plan for the blended course, 3) develop a familiarity with Canvas, particularly those tools that can aid in the teaching of writing, and 4) apply the Quality Matters rubric to design a learner-centered blended course.

As one of the Writing Program Assistants in the Department of English, among my responsibilities are curriculum design and workshop development for writing instructors. Furthermore, I am currently enrolled in the New to Online Program offered by NMSUs Online Course Improvement Program. In this program, I receive training in designing blended and fully online courses and applying the Quality Matters rubric when designing my course. These experiences have given me a vision of the Writing Program at NMSU and those best practices relevant to blended and online course design that support student learning. As a result, my presentation uses the Quality Matters rubric as a framework for the design of the blended course. Additionally, my pedagogical perspective on blended and online instruction is guided by a constructivist model where the instructors priority is not on instruction but on the design of the learning environment, a learning environment which from a constructivist perspective, foster[s] and support[s] active learning (Swan, 2005, p. 6).

Quality Matters (2014) Quality Matters: A National Benchmark for Online Course Design. Retrieved from https://www.qualitymatters.org/

Swan, K. (2005). A constructivist model for thinking about learning online. In J. Bourne & J. C. Moore (Eds), Elements of Quality Online Education: Engaging Communities. Needham, MA: Sloan-C.