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Transforming a Course to Blended Learning for Student Engagement

DOI: 10.1155/2014/430732

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The rising costs of higher education, along with the learning styles and needs of modern students, are changing the instructional landscape. Students of today do less and less well in the “lecture only” format, and staffing this format with live faculty is extremely expensive. MOOCs and other technology-heavy options are low cost but quite impersonal. Blended instruction has promise, with the ultimate goal of cost-efficient student engagement. This paper reports on a major course transformation to achieve student engagement in a large, formerly lecture-only course. The resulting blended-learning course features clickers, web-based operationalization of students helping students, media-rich interactive online materials, event credit, and newly added student-produced video tutorials. Results show that the addition of the student-produced video tutorials increased the student engagement in the course. 1. Introduction A teenaged-daughter enjoyed watching old Saturday Night Live episodes on Netflix, so her father took her to The Second City comedy club in Chicago to see some budding SNL prospects. The evening cost over $150, compared to an average of less than $1 per SNL episode on Netflix. Why the difference? The cost of live performers, of course. Instructional faculty is live performers in the classroom, and the rising costs of higher education are threatening their existence. One key to their survival is student engagement. The real time, multimodal digitally connected students of today do less and less well in the “lecture only” format [1], a format which has shown an upper limit of about 30% content retention regardless of lecturer [2]. If this format continues to be chosen Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other technology-assisted options could permanently remove the live performers. This paper reports on a major course transformation, following the guidelines of University of North Texas’ NextGen program. The resulting blended-learning course features clickers, web-based operationalization of students helping students, media-rich interactive online materials, event credit, and newly added student-produced video tutorials. 2. Theoretical Grounding: The Goal of Student Engagement With the shifting landscape of higher education, many colleges and universities have turned to student engagement activities as a way to ensure deep learning occurs among students [3, 4]. Universities want graduates equipped with skills and knowledge necessary for the 21st century career. Through campus-wide strategic planning initiatives that seek to adjust

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