WMU instructor teaching a course

Blended Learning

Brief Overview

Brief Overview

Blended learning refers to the combination of the team-building and social interaction components of online environments with in-class meetings to create a sense of belonging to a community of inquiry for your students.

In-person and fully synchronous online teaching can be augmented using many of the tools available in the WMU Learning Management System (LMS) interface. Surveys of WMU undergraduate students indicate that having access to an online course presence makes it more likely that they will succeed in a class. Establishing both an in-person and online presence begins by developing a course framework that is shared in both modalities.


A Basic Course Framework

A basic course framework includes having a module for the syllabus, schedule, and assignment sheets for the class, as well as modules for every unit covered in the course. Within each module, the instructor can provide a list of learning goals for the unit and links to lectures and resources. Establishing this basic framework ensures that students will have a centralized location for their course materials while providing the instructor with a logical place to add additional handouts or resources when teaching each module's content.

Instructors who teach using a pre-established course unit structure can replicate that structure in the LMS class site by creating a module for each unit. In these situations, learning goals, assessments, and strategies are usually included in the structure and can be listed out, as well. However, for those instructors who have been integrating these elements only into a syllabus or who have not divided their course content into units, the move to an Elearning framework will require extra steps. The process will require intentionally taking the time to set up, but once established, can serve as a model for subsequent iterations of the course or related courses in the instructor's area of expertise.

Individual modules can include a list of materials, learning objectives, and homework assignments, as well as links to materials that the instructor wishes to share with the class. Including short video messages or mini-lectures will help generate student interest, and all module content can be shared on an overhead or with screen sharing during in-person or synchronous class meetings.

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Encouraging Student Engagement

One question that instructors often ask when establishing an online class presence is whether or not students will make time to access the content. Below are some useful techniques for encouraging students to visit your Elearning site on a regular basis.

Technique One: Online Group Work

Group work is both an important component of in-class sessions and an effective way to keep students engaged in the course between sessions. Online group work can involve synchronous communication in Webex or Teams, or it can leverage asynchronous communication via a series of discussion posts or group rooms established in Teams or the LMS. For asynchronous group meetings, asking students to return to the discussion post multiple times ensures that they engage in the conversation by making more than one contribution.

Requiring students to work collaboratively outside of class and embedding the group work structure in the LMS creates many opportunities for students to visit your site on a frequent basis.

Technique Two: Course Recaps

One blended learning technique, the course recap, offers students participation points for visiting your Elearning site once a week or after every class meeting to read a summary of what went on in-person during the week. In addition to providing helpful information for students who might have missed an in-person class, course recaps give instructors the ability to mention concepts that they forgot or were unable to bring up in the in-person session. Course recaps also help instructors keep track of their teaching experiences and innovations, and they serve as de facto course outlines that students can use as they study for exams.

In order to encourage students to utilize the course recap, instructors can post a short discussion question at the end designed to reinforce concepts, forecast future content, or continue a discussion that had taken place during the in-person session.

Some instructors choose to place course recaps in each module for the class, while other instructors set up a designated module to store them in. Either way, in order to earn points, students are required to access the LMS course framework outside of class on a regular basis. In terms of grading, instructors can choose to make the recaps a major component of the grade and provide extensive commentary, or they can elect to make it an ancillary component and simply provide credit if students meet the requirements.

Below is a sample course recap from an undergraduate course, ENGL 3840, Adolescent Literature, which fulfills major/minor requirements in English. In addition to including a meeting summary and a prompt, the recap includes a reminder regarding homework.

Course Recap

In class today, I described the difference between summarizing a text and making a claim about a text. In addition to going over examples, students created claims and shared them with the class for comment. Our TA's notes, which are included in this module, provide more detail on this segment of class. The claim/summary descriptions and examples can be found in the Agenda, also included in this module.

Next, I gave a lecture on activism in YA literature in order to demonstrate that many of the authors we are reading this semester have set the goal of inspiring young readers to become involved in social and political movements. I asked students to consider whether any of the activist elements in the novels we have recently read feel preachy or if the presence of the "hidden adult" seems particularly overt. We had an interesting discussion on these ideas, summarized well by our TA in his notes.


For homework, you will need to complete the course recap prompt below by 2/28/19 at 11:30 PM. I pushed back this due date because I am concerned that the area will lose power during the upcoming winter storm. Your Film Worksheet will also be due on 2/18/19 at 11:30 PM.

Looking forward, I will release Test 2 on 3/10/19 at 8:00 AM, and it will be due on 3/15/19. I will put up a study guide for Test 2 in a day or so.

Earning Participation Points

Please read the prompt below and participate in a discussion with your classmates. You should make two posts of at least 200 words. There should be at least 5 hours between your two posts. The earlier you post, the more involved you can get in discussion with other classmates. You are certainly welcome to post more than 2 times, but you will earn your 25 points by posting twice. Please be sure to read through the Prompt Assignment Sheet for reminders on professional discourse and to see the basic rubric that I will be using to assign points.

Add your post by clicking on the link above to Course Recap 4/Prompt Post 5, and then click on the blue Start a New Thread button. Your text should be written in complete sentences, and any direct quotes from the text must include parenthetical documentation (putting the page number you have quoted or paraphrased in parentheses after the passage). This response is worth 25 points.


Earlier in the semester, I asked students to think about Roberta Seelinger Trites' claim in Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature (2000) that YA literature depicted teenagers testing out their growing sense of power and autonomy against the social institutions that surrounded them (7). Making reference to any or all of the following books – Thomas' The Hate U Give, Levithan's Every Day, and Eric Gansworth's Give Me Some Truth – how well do you think the teen protagonists manage to achieve their desires? What compromises do they have to make with authority? Are they ever able to defy authority without negative consequences?

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Completing the Course Framework Process

In addition to creating unit modules and filling them out with the design components listed above, instructors can include handouts, links, discussion posts, or other resources. Some instructors choose to reinforce content by embedding a short video in each module or by using the LMS site during in-person sessions to direct students to content and materials.

Beyond this brief guide, WMUx offers instructors a number of resources to help you establish an effective and impactful online teaching presence. For a one-on-one consultation, please use our Contact form.

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