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ICBL Blended Course Redesign
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ICBL Blended Course Redesign

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  • Hi, I’m Gerry Bergtrom. I serve 2 masters at UW-M. I have been a faculty member in the Biological Sciences at UW-M for more than 30 years, and a Instructional design Consultant in our Learning Technology Center for about 5 years. As a science instructor, my biggest challenge over the years has been to cover a traditional body of content and at the same time, model how science is done. I never achieved both in my traditional face-to-face cell biology lecture-only course. But it is effortless now in my blended course! I will illustrate my transition from traditional to blended instruction and later in the workshop, share some specific examples.
  • In anticipation of the redesign effort, I asked several questions: What do I do with only half the time to lecture? How will I cover all of the course content? Could I introduce more student engagement and collaborative learning into the course, even as I had less time to lecture? What did I actually want my students to be able to do after each completing each assignment, and how could I assess that they have achieved the learning objectives that I set for learning activities? What content courl I safely put online and what would still be F2F? How would I avoid overloading the students and myself with too much work and too much grading?
  • Wiggins & McTighe are credited with the concept of backwards design, which can apply to any new course or any course redesign. Then idea is to decide: what students should be able to do after completing an exercise or learning module (the learning objectives Then design the exercise to meet the objectives, And finally, design an assessment that can measure how well students achieve the intended learning objectives. As the slide says, stating learning objectives is not easy… or at least, we should have a common understanding of what learning objectives are.
  • A learning objective should invoke active verbs to complete the following sentence: Upon completing this learning module/exercise, students should be able to…. It is important not to confuse learning objectives for a specific exercise with learning outcomes, such as those promulgated by the AAC&U in their Liberal Education and Americas Promise initative.
  • I have listed many of the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes and a few of my own. A close look should tell us that these are very broad goals that apply across courses and disciplines, and are in fact large programmatic and institutional goals. If Colleges and Universities aren’t aiming at these outcomes for their students, then what on earth are they doing??!!
  • As you can read here, the learning objectives in your course are tied to assignments. They are granular , meaning that they apply to easily identifiable skills, easily described by those active verbs. Of course each specific learning objective should be assessable and should support one or more of the LEAP essential learning outcomes.
  • How do you know if the learning objectives you state for a learning module are appropriate? Here’s a test: Ask yourself if…
  • Now let’s look at the traditional F2F lecture course I eventually redesigned. Students read the text and took online ‘pre-quizzes’ before coming to class. Quizzes were low stakes formative assessments with multiple attempts. In class, I lectured, and gave 3 summative exams (including a final exam). The 3 exams accounted for most of a student’s grade. As with many F2F biology courses, basic content is delivered twice! It’s like we think the textbook is essential and superfluous at the same time. And even with double-coverage, I often couldn’t cover all the topics by the end of the semester. So where do I find the time for the interactive, collaborative learning that could really benefit the students and that in any case, really reflects the gregarious way science is done.
  • In redesigning the F2F course into a blended course, I made three major decisions: I moved all basic unchanging content coverage online. I assigned the content as textbook readings, narrated and un-narrated PowerPoint presentations. I decided that I did not need to… and would no longer lecture in class. My goal was to make students responsible for learning the basic content at home, before they ever came to class. I should have predicted it, but I suddenly found myself free to use all of the class time to get students to engage with each other and with the content. Instead of listening to me repeat what’s in a textbook, students now analyze data, interpret and design experiments, formulate hypotheses… in short, think critically and scientifically about cell and molecular biology. The bottom line: I spent all my F2F time modeling how science is really done.
  • So here is what the blended course looks like. Homework still includes text readings, PowerPoints & online quizzes. But the home/online component of the course is dramatically expanded. Now it includes the Voice-over PowerPoint presentations, several discussions and short writing assignments. And finally, the summative exams have also been moved online. The major changes and additions are in bold-face italics. I introduced three activities and assessments that emphasize student engagement with content and each other. “ Muddiest Points” are be completed at home and handed in at the start of class. Then students try to answer their classmates question about material studied at home. After debriefing the muddiest points, I use the rest of the F2F time to challenge small impromptu groups of students to ‘do and talk science’ with clicker questions, … and experimental scenarios using index cards. I’ll show you a few examples of this later in the workshop. With all the new activities and assessments, the aggregate the low-stakes activities are worth 55%, considerably more than the summative exams which are now only worth 45%. This is one key to the success of a blended or online course. Another key is the integration of online and F2F activities to avoid a dismembered course (one that seem to be two separate, unconnected courses).
  • I just wanted to illustrate so-called granular learning objectives associated with some real exercises in my blended Cell Bio class, and how I put them into a table to help me think about them, the assignments they follow and the broader department and institutional learning outcomes they support.
  • Another vital key to a successful blended course is Integration, by which I mean that activities in class and online must support and build on each other. Up-front attention to integration will save you and your students a lot of duplication and busy work, the sensation that you are teaching a course and a half. More than this, blended learning is now way more than just a seat-time compromise between traditional F2F and fully online courses. Blended learning is increasingly recognized as a pedagogy in itself. And integration is a vital, unifying part of that pedagogy.
  • So here is what integration in my the blended course looks like. The purple arrows map major points where this integration occurs. Note that integration is a two way street (closing the loop as it were).
  • Was it hard to redesign my course to be blended? Time was certainly a challenge. Once I decided to move essential content online, designing F2F activities and the integration took time. I estimate that it took about 2-3 months of concentrated effort design the first iteration of my course and another month or so to revise it into its present state. But this was not truly the hard part of my course redesign. I suspect that course redesign might be easier in the sciences than other disciplines. The challenge for me was be the ‘letting go’. I can tell you that I have achieved a new and unexpected comfort zone in my teaching!
  • To sum up, I truly enjoy teaching my blended course, I cover all of the content online and can even update content with supplements to my online course materials. The biggest payoff, and source of enjoyment is the more active role my students play as self learners and peer instructors in my course.
  • Hi, I’m Gerry Bergtrom. I serve 2 masters at UW-M. I have been a faculty member in the Biological Sciences at UW-M for more than 30 years, and a Instructional design Consultant in our Learning Technology Center for about 5 years. As a science instructor, my biggest challenge over the years has been to cover a traditional body of content and at the same time, model how science is done. I never achieved both in my traditional face-to-face cell biology lecture-only course. But it is effortless now in my blended course! I will illustrate my transition from traditional to blended instruction and then share some specific examples.
  • So, how does the blended course work? Here are some preliminary numbers. All the exams contained similar objective multiple choice and true-false questions. Raw scores are scores before curving. Course letter grades were based on the final scores (which reflected all assessments, extra credit assignments and any adjustments. As you might imagine, I was disappointed that raw exam scores in the blended course, were lower (not higher!) than scores in my older traditional F2F course offerings. Final scores, on which final grades were based were actually higher in the blended course. Dis this inversion result from some kind of grade inflation despite poorer exam performance. Then I realized that in redesigning Cell Biology to be a blended course, I had intentionally downgraded the importance of the largely objective exams (tests of retention). Instead, I placed greater value on assessing improvements in student reasoning, scientific critical thinking and scientific literacy. This assessment of different skills alone could explain the inversion. I want to believe that the higher final scores (and higher course grades) reflect the acquisition of those deeper learning and analytical skills. But I acknowledge that these are preliminary conclusions based on a data set with low n’s. Therefore these last questions are still open.

ICBL Blended Course Redesign ICBL Blended Course Redesign Presentation Transcript

  • Redesigning a traditional F2F Biology Course to Maximize Content Coverage and Learning Matt Russell, Ph.D. & Gerald Bergtrom, Ph.D. Learning Technology Consultants Learning Technology Center University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • How to redesign a course
    • Redesign Questions for
    • My Blended Course
    • If I don’t lecture as much; what will my students do ?
    • If students must learn more on their own, how will I introduce more student-centered active learning into the redesign?
    • What are my learning objectives
    • How do I assess achievement of learning objectives?
    • What stuff goes online & what will be F2F?
    • How do I avoid teaching a course-and-a-half ?
    View slide
  • Learning Objectives and Backwards Design
    • Principles of backwards design (Wiggins & McTighe):
      • State learning objectives &
      • then design exercises to achieve & assess those objectives
    • Stating learning objectives is not easy!
    • Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J., Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition, Alexandria, VA:
    • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2005.
    View slide
  • So… what’s a learning objective ?
    • It’s something students should be able to do after completing an exercise or learning module
    • It should support one or more essential learning outcomes (ELO’s) for your course.
    • Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP), Essential Learning Outcomes, Washington, D.C.: American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), 2010. http://www.aacu.org/leap/vision.cfm
  • Wait! Wait! What’s an *ELO?
    • … one of several broadly stated learning goals :
    • Acquisition of basic disciplinary content
    • Development of critical thinking and analytical skills in your discipline
    • Improved quantitative skills
    • Improved information literacy
    • Improved writing skills (esp. in the discipline)
    • In a STEM class, greater scientific literacy
    • In any class, greater self-confidence
    • * adapted from : Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP)
  • Learning Objectives are more granular than ELOs. They should:
    • apply specifically to a learning module or exercise.
    • Use active verbs to state what a student should be able to do within the discipline after completing the exercise/module.
    • Should be easily assessable .
    • Should support one or more ELOs.
  • A good test of the validity of learning objectives:
    • As stated, is your learning objective applicable to any of your exercises or learning modules?
    • As stated, is your learning objective applicable to an exercise or learning module in any course?
    If you answer yes to either of these questions, revise the objective!
  • The Original F2F Course Home: Text readings & slide presentations assessed by online quizzes, due before lecture
    • Content delivered at home & in class
    • Little time for interactive, collaborative learning
    F2F: Lecture, in- class exams 10% 90%
    • Redesign Solutions for My Blended Course:
    • I don’t lecture at all! F2F time is for collaborative, interactive learning to reinforce online activities.
    • Students are responsible for getting basic content from recorded & unrecorded PowerPoints & text readings.
    • Summative exams are used, but worth ½ as much.
    • Multiple low stakes assessments now measure the achievement of learning objectives not even possible in the original F2F course.
  • Home Text readings, un-narrated PowerPoint slide presentations, online quizzes V OP lectures, Muddiest Points Discussions Short Papers online exams Here’s The Blended Course: 55% F2F: Index Card Qs F2F: Clicker Qs F2F: Debrief muddiest points 5% 10% 13% 12% 5% 10% 45%
  • Some examples of assignments, learning objectives & the ELOs they support: Exercise Learning Objective: fter this exercise my students should be able to… ELO supported Quiz 1
    • Distinguish between origins of life and evolution
    • Find a gene in a gene bank
    • Relate DNA gene to species evolution
    • Critical thinking, analysis
    • Information literacy
    Lincoln’s Genes term Paper
    • Describe functions of genes blamed for Lincoln’s illness
    • Trace the path from a mutation in one of these genes through protein malfunctions to disease symptoms.
    • Design experiments to determine if Lincoln suffered from a particular genetic disease.
    • Critical thinking, analysis
    • Information literacy
    • Improved writing skills
    • Scientific literacy
    Cell migration Discussion
    • Describe genetic differences between cancer and normal cells
    • State alternative hypotheses to explain cancer cell anomalous migration
    • Critical thinking, analysis
    • Improved writing skills
    • Scientific literacy
    • One key to a successful blended pedagogy is Integration
    • Online activities (exercises, learning modules) should build on and reinforce F2F activities.
    • F2F activities should build on and reinforce online activities.
    • Careful attention to integrating online and F2F activities is the surest way to avoid the course-and-a-half syndrome !
  • Home Text readings, un-narrated PowerPoint slide presentations, online quizzes V OP lectures, Muddiest Points Discussions Short Papers online exams Integration ( closing the loop ): Mutual reinforcement of online and F2F activities Integration in The Blended Course: F2F: Index Card Qs F2F: Clicker Qs F2F: Debrief muddiest points
    • Was ‘going blended’ hard to do?
    • Finding time for redesign
    • Settling on a mode of content delivery
    • Integration of online & F2F activities
    • But mostly
    • Letting go of old, cherished ways of teaching!
    • It was an effort, but the payoff was
    • A more enjoyable, more effective way of teaching science.
    • Enduring, easily updatable course materials.
    • More content coverage.
    • More student engagement with content, concept and each other
    • More learning.
  • Gerald Bergtrom, Ph.D. Learning Technology Consultant Learning Technology Center University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee [email_address] 414-229-4319 Redesigning a traditional F2F Biology Course to Maximize Content Coverage and Learning
  • Some Preliminary Numbers & Thoughts
    • After adjustment, summative raw scores had about the same impact on final grades in all courses.
    • Is more learning is taking place in the blended course?
    • Could it be that by discounting objective testing I am measuring the deeper learning I aim for?
    F2F year Exam raw scores Final Grades n F2F sp 2003 70.03 82.13 36 F2F sp 2004 61.28 82.14 38 F2F fall 2004 72.36 80.94 61 F2F sp 2005 74.94 83.82 94 F2F Averages 69.65 82.26 229 Blended sp 2008 66.29 85.09 28 Blended sp 2009 65.52 86.63 33 Blended Averages 65.91 85.86 61