Blended Learning Pedagogy: The Time is Now!

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  • Occupational Therapy In Health Care, 28(3):333338, 2014C 2014 by Informa Healthcare USA, Inc.Available online at http://informahealthcare.com/othcDOI: 10.3109/07380577.2014.908479

    FROM INSTRUCTIONAL INSIGHT ASSOCIATE EDITOR:ELLEN KOLODNER

    Blended Learning Pedagogy: The Time is Now!

    Michael A. Pizzi

    Department of Occupational Therapy, Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York, USA

    ABSTRACT. Pedagogy is rapidly changing. To develop best practice in academia, itis important that we change with the changing needs of students. This article suggeststhat blended learning is one of themost important pedagogical formats that can enhancestudent learning, optimize the use of active learning strategies, and potentially improvestudent learning outcomes.

    KEYWORDS. Blended learning, pedagogy

    We are a profession possessing knowledge that is particularly necessary tomaintain health of people . . . to move from therapist to change agent demandsus to change, but to change in a forward positive way . . .. we must be willing toknow more.

    G. Finn, OTR/L, 1972

    BLENDED LEARNING: WHAT IT IS AND IS NOT

    Hybrid courses include face-to-face (in class) interactions with online learning(Buzzetto-More & Sweat-Guy, 2006). Hybrid learning is also known as blendedlearning due to the blending of online and face-to-face work. According to Hol-lis and Madill (2006), in their review of online learning research, they concludedthat best practice occurs when combining technologies that enhance interactionsbetween students and between students and instructors. Blending the face-to-facelearning with active learning assignments and online learning activities facilitatesinteractions between (a) learner to learner, (b) learner to instructor, and (c) learnerto community-based partners. It also promotes lifelong learning through the devel-oped skill of discovering information utilizing online activities, while also increas-ing interactive skills with a variety of others and enhancing engagement (Goodyear

    Address correspondence to: Michael A. Pizzi, Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy,Long Island University, 1 University Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA (E-mail: Michael.pizzi@liu.edu).

    (Received 20 November 2013; accepted 23 November 2013)

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    et al., 2006). Corcoran et al. (2011) state that hybrid courses encourage instructorsto develop new ways to engage their learners online and foster online communi-ties. This greater online interaction will emerge in the classroom as well and in col-laborative assignments that allow learners to relate, create and donate (AOTA,2011).

    Blended learning includes such active learning activities such as discussionboards, wikis, podcasts, and iMovies. Different platforms are used such as Black-board where weekly assignments and all learning activities are posted. Learnersmust be self-directed and be able to access and use the technology required. Theymust also be reasonably good with time and activity management. Two of the mostimportant principles of adult learning include: (a) being motivated to learn if thereis a perception that the learning will help perform tasks or deal with problems inreal life, and (b) that learners learn best when new learning is presented in thecontext of application to real-life situations (Knowles et al., 2005). Given this, notall students are prepared to engage in online learning. The following informationwill detail development of a mental health practice course using a blended learningformat and will include some student reactions to its implementation.

    COURSE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION

    At our university, a blended learning initiative was developed to increase the num-ber of blended learning courses campus wide. Given my experience with onlinelearning, I was granted permission to develop the mental health practice courseinto a blended learning course. This process, while daunting, was also a creativechallenge that I welcomed.

    The syllabus that was approved was 50% online and 50% face to face for theclassroom portion. The 50% online consisted of weekly wikis and discussionboards using the Blackboard platform. All materials for each week were posted orcompleted on Blackboard, including readings, wikis, quizzes, and exams. Writtenassignments were also uploaded to Blackboard that allowed the professor tocomment and grade everything online. This was a 3 hour class with a 2 hour lab.Students were responsible for arriving at class at 9:30 instead of 8:00 am for theirface-to-face portion. The class of 28 was divided into five groups that workedtogether throughout the semester for all assignments. Each group was assignedone of the five assignments each week beginning in week 3 of the course.

    Wikis were used on Blackboard. Wikis are a content management system whereany number of participants can add, delete, modify, and view content of any kind.Anything related to a group project can be posted onto a wiki. I utilize wikis oftenfor group work to help students understand each others process. It also helps themdevelop a cohesive group project. This was the first time this particular group ofstudents were using wikis. In the first class, I introduced them to the concept of awiki and the students practiced uploading information to a practice wiki, answeringthree basic questions. All students learned how to use a wiki within one session andhad no issues throughout the semester.

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  • Blended Learning Pedagogy: The Time is Now! 335

    The online portion of the course using a wiki and discussion boards consisted ofthe following:

    Group Assignment Learning Outcome

    1. Outline the diagnosis and common symptoms of the targetedpopulation (the PERSON); identify the commonoccupational performance deficits. This group alsoidentifies and describes ONE possible FOR that can beused to guide OT evaluation and intervention.

    Use of readings and externalscholarly sources

    Identify at least five unique interview questions and fiveoccupational observations for that population.

    Increases and uses clinicalreasoning skills

    Identify and describe at least two valid and reliableassessment tools that an OT might conduct during anevaluation specific to the targeted population.

    Insures application andunderstanding of theory tosupport practice

    Describe in detail two suggested OCCUPATION-basedinterventions that would be appropriate for the population.

    Write up ONE long-term goal (LTG) and TWO short-term goals(STG) related to the LTG for any of the stated activities.

    2. This group will PRESENT, in-class, the information the firstgroup posted (approximately 45 minutes). This group mustread the wiki, summarize each component, and present theinformation to the class in an interactive format of thegroups choice.

    Emphasizes teaching-learningInsures that there is some

    reading of the materials

    3. Summarizes the textbook chapters (and/or the readings forthe week) and poses two questions on the DiscussionBoard based on each chapter (at least 3 days prior toclass).

    Insures that textbook chaptersare read

    4. Answers the textbook questions on the Discussion Board andcreates three questions to be asked in class related to thewiki (brought to class) (at least the day before class).

    Insures that textbook chaptersand the wiki materials areread

    5. Share via posts on a separate Discussion Board summariesof at least three evidence-based articles related to theweeks population, providing the URL and reference.

    Develops scholarship anddemonstrates need forevidence to support practice

    Eachweek, the groups rotated the assignments, so that each completed the largerassignment (seeGroup 1) at least twice throughout the semester. Quizzes, midtermand final questions were developed from the wiki posts as well as the discussionboard posts and the readings. Besides online work, students developed resourcenotebooks, completed a short paper on short-term programs they led in their Field-work Level I, and completed amajor paper onmental health program developmentchoosing one of three case scenarios I provided.

    Students were assigned weekly readings and were given an online quiz that con-sisted of 10 questions. The quiz was taken for the first 10 minutes of class. This wasfollowed by the class presentation of the material posted on the wiki. The class con-cluded with a summary of the material I provided. I also presented 23 mini-casescenarios related to that weeks materials on which the class voted the answers.Concerned about active learning as well as providing the requisite information forthe course, I designed it to accommodate diverse learning opportunities. I also de-signed it to accommodate various learning styles of students by providing, for ex-ample, the opportunity to develop weekly presentations using creative methods.

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  • 336 Pizzi

    STUDENT REFLECTIONS

    The students were given an online survey prior to the course, at midterm and afterthe course. Since the students had never taken a blended course, this survey wasdesigned to determine student perceptions of both content and delivery method(blended learning). I found the information to be very helpful for future coursedevelopment. Some of the student reflections are noted below:

    I became more organized. I also learned how to gather information better inorder to improve my reading and comprehension skills.

    Blended learning for me was a big struggle. I am not a fan of online learning,and never was. I learn best in face-to-face interaction, and need to have a realclassroomwith a teacher and classmates around.As such, I struggled to succeedin this course, more than others.

    While I was skeptical about this experience in the beginning, after learning,and doing all of the assignments I found it to be very interesting and dynamicway of learning.

    My experience with blended learning has been a new way of receiving theinformation through more than one outlet. Blended learning for me is still alearning process and has taking [sic] up a lot of my time but I am beginning toenjoy having the class partially on line and in person.

    I find myself remembering the factual and discussion based material muchbetter and quicker.

    The following questions were designed to determine if students were benefittingfrom blended learning. Students rated the questions from strongly agree to stronglydisagree. As the results show, over time and as a group, they adapted to this newapproach to learning.

    N = 29Question Survey Jan 22 Survey March 15 Survey

    I feel blended learning or havingstudents do work online iseasier for the instructor.

    SA/A = 38% SA/A = 36% SA/A = 41%Neutral = 34.5% Neutral = 43% Neutral = 30%

    SA/A = 74%I am more confident using wikis. SA/A = 82% Neutral = 19%I have adapted to this type of

    learning (blended).SA/A = 64% SA/A = 59%Neutral = 28.5% Neutral = 41%

    I prefer when an instructorteaches the coursework versusme needing to research anddiscover information.

    SA/A = 62%Neutral = 31%

    SA/A = 32%Neutral = 60%

    SA/A = 52%Neutral = 41%

    My confidence level in doing mywork using online formats ishigh.

    SA/A = 24% (no SA) SA/A = 43% (SA = 3.5%) SA/A = 59.2%Neutral = 38% Neutral = 50% Neutral = 30%Disagree = 24% Disagree = 3.5%

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  • Blended Learning Pedagogy: The Time is Now! 337

    DISCUSSION

    Developing active learning strategies using blended formats can be challenging, butalso extremely rewarding, as noted by some of the student comments. If we, as aprofession, are to continue to create best practices in academia to prepare innova-tive and creative future practitioners, we owe it to them to incorporate technologyinto our classrooms.

    Upon reflection, blended learning works best when students are slowly intro-duced to the format, and when professors are on-board with the technology.Practice sessions with students, professional development courses for faculty, andgood understanding of a good fit between the curriculum and the pedagogy are sug-gested. The following are some other lessons learnedwhen using a blended learningformat:

    There is a lot of upfront work but your work for the semester is better organizedfor your students AND yourself.

    Students can adapt when made less anxious and taught that learning can be funand interesting using technology that is familiar to them.

    Dealing with computer glitches as a matter of fact and calmly can reduce studentanxiety and have a plan for when they happen!

    Repetition of information, and making it readily available to students, may en-hance learning and improve student outcomes.

    Blended learning is eco-friendly. Blended and hybrid learning is the future and the future is now!

    Rovai and Jordan (2004) note that the development of blended courses createa stronger sense of community for students. They state the learning environmentbecomes more learning-centered, with emphasis on active learning through col-laboration and social construction of understanding (p. 11). As we move forwardthrough the 21st century, it is imperative that the occupational therapy profession,continue to create innovations in academia to best meet the occupational needs ofstudents.

    Declaration of interest:The author reports no conflict of interest. The author aloneis responsible for the content and writing of this paper.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    At the time of this writing, Michael A. Pizzi, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is an As-sistant Professor at Long Island University, Brooklyn, and has had several yearsexperience in academia. He helped develop a problem-based learning curriculum,and taught in a hybrid post-baccalaureate program. Dr Pizzi has published over 50journal articles and book chapters, has been a guest editor for three journals, andis coeditor of the textbook Occupational Therapy in the Promotion of Health andWellness. His research focus has been on community-based health, wellness andquality of life, and the impact of occupation in these areas. Dr Pizzi is founder ofthe not for profit Touching Humanity, which promotes disability awareness and

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    social and occupational justice through the arts and education. He can be reachedat mpizzi58@gmail.com or Michael.pizzi@liu.edu.

    REFERENCES

    Buzzetto-More N, & Sweat-Guy R. (2006). Hybrid learning defined. Journal of InformationTechnology Education, 5, 153156.

    CorcoranM,Davidson L,Marr D, & PizziMA. (2011). Hybrid learning: A future in occupationaltherapy. Presentation at the 91st Annual Confer...

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