What is it?
The UWMLTC assists faculty and instructors by providing pedagogical consultation and technical training in designing, delivering, and improving blended and online courses for those who are new to the use of technology for teaching as well as those who are experienced technology users. Guidance and instruction is offered through faculty development programs, workshops, individual consultations, and online tutorials.
How does it work?
Online courses are courses where 100% of the traditional face-to-face classroom time is replaced by online assignments and activities. Fully online courses use technology in order to meet in a virtual classroom. Fully online courses do not meet face-to-face, but use Desire2Learn, a courseware product, in order to facilitate a virtual classroom. We assist instructors in developing their courses for online administration by proposing pedagogical and technological considerations in design.
Blended courses are where 20% or more of the traditional face-to-face classroom time is replaced by online assignments and activities. Students spend less time in the classroom and more time working and interacting online, providing greater flexibility regarding when and where coursework can be completed. Instructors can redesign their traditional classes to move substantial course content and student learning activities online, allowing them to reduce the number of face-to-face class meetings.
With the increase in the diffusion of online and blended programming across higher educational institutions, stakeholders are looking for ways to ensure the quality of the student experience. Quality of blended and online programs can be ensure through faculty and instructional development and training, faculty and instructor evidence of competence and recognition for excellence, constructive evaluation and feedback on blended and online course design and delivery, and community building opportunities among instructors and staff.
Overall, the UWMLTC has several measures in place for promoting quality in online and blended learning on campus, including:
- Offering an Online and Blended Teaching Program (OBTP) that guides instructors through the course redesign process
- Awarding of a Certificate Program for Online and Blended Teaching to acknowledge competence in online and blended course design and delivery
- Recognizing instructional excellence through the Joanne Lazirko award for Innovative Use of Technology
- Delivering workshops that address pedagogical and technical issues that impact teaching and learning
- Exploring and evaluating emerging educational technologies that impact teaching and learning
- Advocating for strategies, principles, and technologies based on a research-driven practice
- Drawing on the expertise of a highly trained and skilled staff who teach online, blended, and technology-enhanced courses in their disciplines
- Developing community among teaching staff who teach online, blended, and technology-enhanced courses on campus
Why is it significant?
Online and blended learning is becoming a prominent mode of programming and delivery in education. It is swiftly emerging and transforming higher education to better meet the needs of our students providing them with more effective learning experiences. A recent study reported that “…the number of students taking online courses will grow by 22.8% and that those taking blended courses will grow even more over the next 2 years” (Picciano, Seamen, Shea, & Swan, 2012, p. 128). This movement is leading to a renovation in the way courses are taught, and programs support their students. Instructional and faculty development provides the core foundation to institutional programming in providing a framework for implementing blended and online learning pedagogy in the classroom. This student-centered, active learning pedagogy has the potential to alter the traditional classroom by enhancing course effectiveness through increased interactivity leading to superior student outcomes. Online and blended courses provide increase access through greater flexibility regarding when and where coursework can be completed. The pedagogical model for blended and online courses is student-centered, active learning with the potential to increase interactivity and engagement, learning, success and performance, retention, and satisfaction.
Who is using it on campus?
UWM leads the State by offering over 40 online and blended degree programs to its approximately 30,000 students where they have almost 600 online and blended courses to choose from each semester. Specifically, UWM offers 19 online and blended undergraduate degree majors/minors. UWM also offers the First 60 program, which is a completely online freshman and sophomore undergraduate curriculum that provides the necessary foundation courses to complete GERs. These courses are provided in a fully online format and can lead to the completion of a degree in conjunction with one of UWM’s online majors. At the graduate level, UWM offers a master’s degree in Library and Information Science, a master’s degree in Administrative Leadership with a concentration in adult and continuing education leadership, a doctoral degree in Nursing, and the BSN@Home Program that offers an RN to bachelor’s degree pathway. UWM also offers online graduate certificates in state and local taxation and professional writing and a credential program for child care directors.
In the fall of 2012, UWM offered approximately 600 blended and online courses, 1,705 students were enrolled exclusively in online courses, 7,649 students were enrolled in at least one fully online course, and 7,655 students were enrolled in at least one blended course. Almost 70% of students who take blended and online courses live right in the Metro Milwaukee area illustrating the needs of students to learn anytime even if not at a far distance.
What do they think about it?
The UWMLTC is currently conducting a study among blended and online instructors and results will be available late Fall 2013.