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New to Blended Learning?

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Getting Started

Interested in developing a blended course, but unsure how or where to begin? Here are some tips distilled out the experiences of faculty who were developing courses for the NGLC study of blended learning in a liberal arts college setting. 

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Tips for Faculty Who Want to Get Started with Blended Learning

Blending a course can be daunting. Jennifer Spohrer has collected advice about how to get started that faculty have shared at the annual Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts conferences that Bryn Mawr hosts in this guest post on the Next Generation Learning Challenges blog

rebeccamec's picture

Meet VoiceThread!

VoiceThread is a user-friendly way to share power point presentations, videos, photos, and other media. Students and professors can record video or audio responses, draw on the media to highlight certain points, and comment in text form. This site is useful for discussion outside of the classroom, allowing students to focus on the topic at hand and reflect in a collaborative way.

Want to Learn More?
Read how VoiceThread describes its capabilities.



Through VoiceThread...

Professors can:

  • Upload power points
  • Upload question slides for comment
  • Comment on students’ writing in video, text, and visual formats

Students can:

rebeccamec's picture

What is MediaThread?

MediaThread, a project created by the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning through the Digital Bridges Initiative is a service that allows you to blend your thoughts with multimedia sources and share them with others. MediaThread supports video, images, metadata, and many content websites listed below. Most compatible with Firefox, MediaThread is currently being used by Columbia, MIT, Wellesley, Dartmouth, The American University in Cairo, and many other institutions of higher education.

Who can do what with MediaThread? Through MediaThread...

MediaThread's Introductory Video
jspohrer's picture

WestChester University's RECAP2014

Philly-area faculty and IT's looking to develop academic technology skills and strategies should check out Westchester University's RECAP conference and hands-on workshops. This year's themes include mobile pedagogy; engaging students; assessment; universal design; and using technology to develop critical thinking and other soft skills. Technologies discussed include both commercial and open-source options. For more information and to register, see

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Software PhD: Community-Based Reviews for Education Software

In a world of crowdsourcing and community-based expertise, it's easy to access reviews on everything from products, to services, to restaurants. As the Chronicle of Higher Education describes it, potential users looking to evaluate education technology now have a site of their own: Software PhD, a newly-created website designed to allow vendors and educators to share, discuss, and frankly opine about educational technology. For new users looking to find and buy products, Software PhD has a rating section where you can compare both company and product ratings to make better-informed purchasing decisions. The ratings are broken up into a (presumably expanding, given the site's relative youth) system of categories, including Catalog & Curriculum Management, Scheduling, and Retention & Advising, among others. While anyone can browse reviews, it takes a registered account to write reviews and to use the forum section. By requiring registration, creator Mark Baker hoped to inspire some transparency: while users are not required to provide their names, they are required to identify their institutions. As a result, all reviewers are "trusted reviewers" in some way. The site boasts less than 400 active users so far, but as it grows so too will its power to provide a comprehensive buying guide.

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EdSurge's Try Before You Buy

The people at EdSurge are thinking the same thing as many edtech afficiandos -- with so many products and services on the market, wouldn't it be great to be able to test them out and find the right one without having to invest before you know what you want? This summer, EdSurge is going to try and help with their "Clear & Simple" trials program. The premise of the program is to let educators try out new edtech for 60 days completely free. Instead of a bare-bones "trial" version, the program allows the testers to access the full version, without any commitment to resubscribe or continue at the end of the 60 day test. All vendors participating in the program have signed on to the same basic terms.

Like most of EdSurge's programs, many of the programs in the Clear & Simple trial are targeted towards K-8 or K-12 educators. Many of them focus on tracking and assessing student mastery of Common Core standards, which are not easily repurposed for college uses. However, some of the programs such as Gobstopper and All In Learning, definitely have potential for the liberal arts blended classroom.

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Five Models for Blended Learning

What exactly IS blended learning? The term (along with its analogue "hybrid" learning) is broadly used to describe individual courses or educational programs that combine "traditional" classroom-based teaching and computer-aided learning outside the classroom. This is a very broad umbrella, however, and I get many questions attempting to clarify what counts and doesn't count or what blended learning looks like on the ground in more concrete terms. 

The National Center for Academic Transformation has developed a taxonomy of blended learning models that might provide some clarity to those new to the subject and inspiration for faculty looking for ways to transform a "traditional" course into a blended one.

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