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blendedlearning's picture

BlendLAC 2015 was a great success!

The fourth annual Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Conference, hosted at Bryn Mawr College from May 20 to May 21, included a keynote address, panel discussions and various workshops.

It brought together more than 165 professionals from 65 different colleges, universities and institutions to focus on topics of interest related to blended learning in the liberal arts. Bryn Mawr College, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, FIPSE First in the World Program, and the Association of American Colleges & Universities TIDES Initiative supported the conference.

jspohrer's picture

Thinking about the "micro-lecture" ...

Many faculty are experimenting with reducing the amount of class time spent lecturing in order to devote more time to discussion, problem-solving, and other activities designed to engage students in active learning. Thanks to Salman Khan of Khan Academy, perhaps, the most famous example of this is the "flipped classroom" approach, in which lectures are partly or wholly replaced by short instructional videos designed to be viewed as "homework" outside of class. In Introduction to Key Concepts in Five Minutes or Less: The ‘Did You Know?’ Microlecture Series, Julia VanderMolen explains talks about the potential benefits of the recorded "microlecture," the tools and pedagogical approach she takes when recording them, and how she integrates them in to her classes. Although the focus is recorded lectures, the approach could be used for in-person "micro-lectures" as well. 

jancym's picture

Improved Success for Black and First Generation Undergraduates in Active Learning Course

The CBE-Life Sciences Education journal has recently published a study that resulted in improved success for black and first generation undergraduates who have a more activate role in class. Six semesters of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s introductory biology class (~400 students per class) were studied. Three of classes studied were simple lecture-based courses where students were not held accountable for coming to class prepared. The other three classes had an active learning approach which involved more in-class activities completed through teamwork, online exercises, and assigned textbook reading in order to prepare students for class. Overall, active learning improved test scores and significantly increased the number of students who passed exams. Specifically, for black and first generation active learners, exams scores increased by six percent. Additionally, the score gap between first-generation students and other students was not present for courses with an active learning structure. Students in the active learning classes were more likely to complete textbook readings, dedicate more hours on coursework, participate more in class, and view class as a community. These findings suggest that an active learning course structure improves student academic success and accomplishment particularly for students who are from an under-resourced background.

rebeccamec's picture

Blended Learning in the News


Below, read all about what others have been saying about Blended Learning!


"‘Dubliners’Comes to Life in Boston College’s Annotated E-Book"

by Avi Wolfman-Arent in The Chronicle of Higher Education: Wired Campus on June 10, 2014

"Learning R"

by Andrea Zellner in Inside Higher Ed: GradHacker on June 10, 2014

"Five Things Online Students Want from Faculty"

by Rob Kelly in Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications on May 30, 2014

emilym's picture

What is Swivl?

Swivl is a robotic platform which can be used for recording presentations or class lectures. Users can connect a smartphone or tablet, or a DSLR camera, and use the free Swivl app to record video of the presentation.

Swivl robot example

Swivl is a service with 3 important components: the robotic base, the free Swivl Capture app for smartphone or tablet, and Swivl Cloud.

The Swivl robotic base can follow the "marker," either held or worn on a lanyard, allowing the instructor or presenter to move around freely and have the camera follow them. The marker conveniently doubles as a wireless microphone and as a remote control for the slides in the Swivl Capture app. Powerpoint slides can be imported to the Swivl app on the smartphone or tablet, which can be used to present while recording video, and facilitate the creation of a video with time-synchronized slides and presenter video. The Swivl Capture app can be used with Swivl Cloud without the Swivl robot, or with the Swivl robot.

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:

jspohrer's picture

Bryn Mawr's Liz McCormack featured in HHMI Bulletin article on Flipped Classrooms

The Science Education article in the Spring 2014 issue of the HHMI bulletin interviews several faculty in biology, physics, and chemistry about their motivations for flipping the classroom, the strategies they used, and the results the have seen. Among them is Bryn Mawr College's Elizabeth McCormack, who discusses her her experiences flipping a sophomore electromagnetics class, including initial resistance from students and what she has learned from that resistance. (Click here for slides from McCormack's 2013 Blended Learning Conference presentation on this experience.)

Learning impacts described in the article seem consistent with those reported by faculty who discussed their own experiments with flipping the classroom at the 2014 Blended Learning Conference -- high-performing students continue to do well, and middle- to lower-performing students show improvement. One quasi-experimental study that compared students in a section of introductory physics course that introduced students to content through pre-class reading assignments to free up class time for active-learning activities to a section taught in a traditional format, found that the form scored significantly higher on a standard test of their knowledge of quantum mechanics.     

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

Historicizing the Flipped Classroom

The latest article posted to the Tomorrow's Professor mailing list, "1330. Flipped Classrooms- Old or New?," reconnects the idea of the "flipped" classroom to long-standing educational practice.

Current media coverage paints "flipped" as a revolutionary form of blended or technology-enhanced teaching. Instead of lecturing, an instructor introduces key concepts and skills though online videos or interactive tutorials, which students are required to complete before class. The instructor then uses class time for active learning exercises designed to help students engage with and master that material -- such as problem-solving, group projects, in depth discussion, debates, etc.

blendedlearning's picture

The Pedagogy of Discovery

According to Steven Mintz, Executive Director of the University of Texas System's Institute for Transformation Learning, it isn't just education that's changing: it's pedagogy. He recalls Jerome Bruner's work in the early 1960s which found that the standard pedagogy of the era, knowledge transmission, needed to be revised. He suggested "discovery learning," which emphasizes learning through inquiry and team work instead of passive reception. Professor Mintz believes its time for another change: as he wrote in a recent post for Inside Higher Ed, "The time is ripe to move toward Pedagogy 3.0: a pedagogy of collaboration, creativity, and invention which treats students not simply as learners but as creators of knowledge."

Mintz notes that the way undergraduate institutions work, they only really serve one out of three subgroups they should be serving: those struggling without proper preparation and faced with other demands, and potential students who are currently workin adults and full-time caretakers, often go unserved. The Pedagogy of Discovery, according to Professor Mintz, would help address these gaps. Instead of treating college students as passive, it treats them as "knowledge creators whose school work needs to be meaningul and subject to vetting not just by a single professor but a broader audience."

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