Many schools are using Course Management Systems to offer their students a blended instruction experiences.  What resources (technology, human, etc.) do you currently have at your disposal that could assist you in doing this? What resources do you feel as an instructional designer you are missing that would hamper your efforts?

Designing an online course in isolation is very difficult to do and I am fortunate to work in a school where we have the ability to use the team approach for the designing process. When designing a blended course at school several people are involved in the process. The classroom teacher is the instructional expert, the technology facilitator assists in the design, and the IT Staff assists with the background setup of our chosen CMS.

The classroom teacher is the content specialist during the design process at our school, but some of the teachers lack confidence in the technology area and relinquish any control to the technology facilitator. Ko and Rossen noted that some instructors turn everything over to the designer, expecting them to edit and upload all materials (2010). While not the norm, I’ve experienced this first hand in my position. Ko and Rossen did not mention a teacher’s motivation for relinquishing control, but I believe that it comes from a place of fear of the technology. As I’ve stated in previous posts, this comes back to a quality professional development and support program for the classroom teacher.

The technology facilitator at our school takes the lead in the course design process. It’s important to note that the technology facilitators at our school were once classroom teachers, which as Ko and Rossen note help them “understand the dynamic nature of teaching and classroom interaction” (Ko & Rossen, 2010, Chapter 4, Section 3, para. 1). The technology facilitator helps the classroom teacher gain confidence in the design process by consistently bringing the discussion back to what to what the instructor wants the students to learn and how they could demonstrate their learning. By keeping this idea at the forefront of all discussions, teachers are able to take a more active role in the design process.

The IT staff support the classroom teacher and technology facilitator throughout the design process at our school. Albeit, the IT staff needs a fair amount of support as well! The IT staff are the true geeks and often need consistent questioning and help with follow through, but they are the technical background support of our chosen CMS system and help us navigate through the technical complexities. It is worth noting, the technology facilitator is the technical “translator” between the classroom teacher and the IT staff.

The technology we have at our k12 international school allows us to be creative with design process. We use Moodle as our Course Management System, we are a 1:1 Apple Flagship School in Asia in grades 6 to 12 and are able to host media on our own servers for students and staff to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

The only missing component I see at this time in my school revolves around the number of technology facilitators. Over the past three years my particular division has grown from 324 students to 480 students and the number of teachers has grown at the same rate. I am but one technology facilitator, teaching all 480 students and their teachers. There are not enough minutes in the day to reach them individually and as a result my role has changed significantly with the growth. I find myself spending more time with just the teachers, hoping and knowing they will carry forward their new-found knowledge in blended instruction to their students. While I feel lucky to have the resources I have at my school, I can see the potential of what can be done with just one more of me…

References
Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching online: A practical guide (3rd ed.). [iPad version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Image Credits
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2 Comments to “Resources for Designing a Blended Class”

  1. Davey Neill says:

    A thoughtful post with a lot of astute observations.
    The question that remains at the end of the piece:
    How do we clone you?

    Best,
    D : )

  2. Time yep time issue is always a hard one to beat… I like twitter’s time shifting way to learning but it’s so darn hard to be commit to, with the #GFW. I’ve compromised and seeing if learning can continue with China’s social networking tools like QQ and http://weibo.com/brianlockwood The PD outcome, I’m learning a whole heck of a lot about China, it’s people and it’s Geography. Does it answer your time issue? yes, but it’s out of context with an international school.. critical mass might fix that. Have more teacher join Weibo and we might be able to replicate a bit of the global learning experience we see with twitter plus tackle that time issue too

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