A guest post by Dr. Kelvin Thompson.
Kelvin Thompson is the associate director of the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida.
Experience Blended Learning While Studying Blended Learning. (It’s Meta!)
Blended learning has been called “the best of both worlds” and can be conceptualized as the strategic combination of face-to-face and online interactions to create a learning environment better than either of its two component modalities. Additionally, blended learning sits at the “sweet spot” between faculty preferences and institutional goals. See TOPcast episodes 03 and 04.
In the spirit of all that’s great about blended learning, BlendKit2016, the open, online course on blended learning design, combines a global cohort with value-add local interactions to provide a powerful professional development experience for those faculty and designers wishing to get started with or brush up on designing effective blended courses. The “local cohort option” (see video introduction) encourages the formation of face-to-face groups to provide mutual accountability and institutional contextualization for the more general global cohort experience. Past groups have reported that local sessions were extremely valuable in helping individuals apply blended learning design principles and successfully complete the global cohort. Groups can be as simple as occasional “coffee conversations” or as robust as full-blown institutionally incentivized faculty development programs. (See additional examples of past institutional use cases at http://bit.ly/blendkit_stories.)
During the 2016 cohort, UCF’s BlendKit Team is offering support resources and consultations to institutional cohorts of 10 or more participants. While these benefits are available to any interested institution, Open SUNY COTE has partnered with the BlendKit Team to facilitate and support the formation of two kinds of SUNY groups:
- local cohorts at participating SUNY institutions
- a virtual COTE cohort at the system level
Individual faculty or designers interested in participating in a local cohort for BlendKit2016 should first register as participants in the free, open online course offered on Canvas Network. (See http://bit.ly/go_blendkit2016.) If you’re not sure whether a local cohort is being formed at your institution, feel free to ask the BlendKit Team by sending a message to blendkit [at] ucf [dot] edu. (If a group is not yet underway, we’ll be happy to help you get one started! If you’re ready to champion a local cohort, register as a point-of-contact (POC) at http://bit.ly/POC_blendkitlocal to receive on-going communications/support.) If you are affiliated with a SUNY campus, contact Erin Maney to get connected (email@example.com).
BlendKit2016 is the most recent in a series of global, facilitated cohorts organized around the publicly-hosted, Creative Commons-licensed BlendKit Course Materials. In addition to the free course, EDUCAUSE and University of Central Florida (UCF) co-sponsor a portfolio-based “Certified Blended Learning Designer” certificate available to successful course completers. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are also available to course completers and certificate earners. The creation of the BlendKit Course Materials, part of the Blended Learning Toolkit, was originally funded by a Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) grant awarded jointly to UCF and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in 2011. For information on the the design of the BlendKit Course Materials and the associated cohorts, please see The evolution of the blendkit course: Fine-tuning a professional development MOOC. For information on the outcomes of previous cohorts, please see Enrollment, engagement, and satisfaction in the blendkit faculty development open, online course.
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