The Hamilton Holt School launched blended learning in its spring 2013 courses through a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South. Through the grant, five faculty participants learned how to integrate traditional teaching methods with asynchronous or virtual teaching methods.
Faculty participants attended two 2-hour informational sessions taught by Associate Professor of Communication Rick Bommelje to learn more about blended learning and how it can be applied to course development. During the intersession from January 7-11, the faculty completed a 20-hour workshop taught by Carrie Schulz and Meribeth Huebner during which they developed a blended learning module or unit for one of their courses. The faculty involved in the training represented a wide range of disciplines including biology, psychology, and foreign languages.
According to Adjunct Professor Dianne Bennett, “The blended learning initiative workshop was instrumental in helping me design my Psychology 101 blended course for spring 2013. The workshops provided me with the opportunity to deeply reflect on how to effectively transform and deliver course content in a meaningful student-centered, blended format. Furthermore, the sharing of information, resources, and ideas between colleagues was fantastic!” she explained.
Holt School Dean David Richard, who initiated the endeavor, said, “This gives our faculty the chance to expose our students to a wider range of teaching methodologies to supplement the traditional face-to-face lecture. We are still maintaining the personalized education that is the hallmark of liberal arts colleges but utilizing 21st century methodologies to enhance the learning opportunities.”
Students were assessed before, during, and after the blended learning modules. Reactions to the blended learning formats and traditional face-to-face instruction were compared, and the majority of the students were pleased with the experience and would like to see more blended courses offered at Holt.
The blended learning certification program was so successful that Holt is offering another opportunity for certification this summer. More than 30 faculty were interested in participating, and 21 have been selected for this next cohort. This fall, Holt will offer approximately 25 blended courses.
Additionally, Holt received another Associated Colleges of the South Mellon Foundation Faculty Advancement Grant to continue enhancing the certification process, and this grant will allow more faculty participation and oversight of the certification process. The results of this grant will be reported at the ACS Faculty Forum on Adult Education and the Liberal Arts, which will be held October 10-11 at the Alfond Inn in Winter Park, Florida. This conference session will be videotaped and provided to ACS to include on its website, and conference proceedings will be disseminated to members of all 16 ACS schools involved in the Focus Forum. The Holt School will provide an e-how-to guide for developing blended learning certification programs for dissemination to other liberal arts colleges that are adding blended learning to their teaching methodologies.