Progress updates from Prof. Timothy SIMPSON of FSS:
I joined the Blended Learning Initiative because in the new UM undergraduate curriculum plan, my department has been tasked with creating (in partnership with the Residential College program) a 1 credit requirement on the topic of Communication and Leadership Skills, which will be required of all UM undergraduate students during their second year of study. Given the enormous enrollment of such a university-wide course, as well as the lack of sufficient staff in the department to deliver such a course in a conventional classroom setting, I was hoping that Blended Learning strategies would be useful to aide in the course design and delivery. From my participation in the initiative, as well as extensive discussion with my departmental colleagues who serve on the departmental committee devoted to the design of the course (and in cooperation with representatives from the Residential College system), we collectively decided that the course would be offered in a blended learning format. That is, the course will involve a group of 5 or 6 brief video lectures (ranging from 8-12 minutes each) which will cover a set of basic concepts, theories, and practices related to the course subject matter. Embedded in each video is a simple quiz, and students may earn course credit by viewing each video component and completing the respective quiz. In addition, there are more practical aspects of the course material, such as activities, guest lectures, and applied projects, which can be offered within the residential colleges and which may complement the video content.
So the blended learning initiative has played a formative role in the logic and practical dimensions of the course design. However, the vast majority of the creation of the actual course content — including the scripts for each topical video, the on-screen lecture delivery of each course module, and the technical dimensions of production and design — have actually been handled by my departmental colleague Benjamin Hodges. Prof. Hodges is not part of the blended learning initiative, but he should get the primary credit for ultimately creating the course which uses blended learning techniques, and for devoting a very significant amount of time and effort to this task. The new course will be offered for the first time in the upcoming semester, so hopefully there will be opportunities to analyze the delivery and success of the course, and for the content to be shared with the blended learning group.