Friday, October 17, 2014

Blended Learning and the Community of Inquiry Framework

Blended Learning and the Community of Inquiry Framework
Mario Santonastaso, Campbell Hall School - January 2014

Since the early 1990s, schools have poured large amounts of money into technology.  Classrooms are filled with data projectors, computer desktops, laptops, iPads, interactive white boards and more, but all this technology has had little impact on learning.  While it is necessary for schools to integrate new technology, for the most part, teaching is still going on in the same way it has since the middle ages.  Rows of students may be using laptops or iPads to take notes, and  teachers may be using an interactive white board,  but the new technology is being used to deliver content in the same way it was a hundred years ago.  Technology has essentially been used to sustain an old model.  Moreover, fully online learning has done little to change teaching.  Recorded video lectures are still the primary mode of delivery, and although MOOCs make it possible to reach large numbers of students,  recorded lectures, discussions, and assessments are still the primary model of teaching.
What is needed to transform education is a model that makes use of current brain, and educational research, and uses learning management systems to facilitate a new model of teaching and learning.  Learning needs to be designed to fit individual students using the best possible tools and techniques.  A new paradigm is emerging that will remodel the teaching and learning process.  Teachers and technology integration specialists need to become learning design specialists while integrating the best of  learning research into their teaching.
This paper proposes a framework for planning and implementation of this shift using currently available tools and planning strategies.  It is now possible to transform learning to reach all types of learners and vastly improve the learning process for all students.  

Cognitive Overload
Cognitive theory has established that the classroom environment alone is not the best way to acquire knowledge, skill and experience.  Current brain research suggests that cognition is inversely proportional to cognitive load (Musallam, 2008).  In his study, Randy Musallam compared using the flipped classroom model with a traditional model of teaching and was able to measure substantial benefits from the flipped model.  In the flipped model he presented material for an AP Chemistry class by recording screen casts of concepts and worked out examples.  The content was divided  into short(10 to 15 min) screen casts.  Students had more time to absorb material as they had control of playback.  He used pre-quiz questions to ensure students absorbed the material and addressed misconceptions and extended concept development during face to face sessions.  His work and that of others became the foundation for the flipped classroom model.

In the diagram, extraneous load from the environment competes with intrinsic load from the classroom.  A third type of load, Germane Load, helps with information processing.  Intrinsic Load, Extraneous Load and Germane Load must be less than the Working Memory capacity for learning to occur.   Short term working memory, which is quite limited, acts as a conduit to long-term memory containing prior knowledge that we must bring to bear to embody new knowledge.  Cognitive overload occurs at different levels for different people, but everyone can be overloaded, preventing material from becoming part of long-term memory and achieving understanding.  It is in the improvement of conditions for working memory to optimize the  mastery of material that blended learning holds the most promise.  Blended learning off loads content and gives students control over the environment, time scale and attention they devote to its understanding.  Furthermore, focused pre-quizzes are used to direct attention to the online content.  Pre-quiz feedback gives a measure of understanding that is further explored during follow-up in face to face classwork and diagnoses individual or universal misconceptions.  While off loading content helps working memory, additional guided practice during face to face sessions now becomes possible further increasing retention and understanding. (Calvin et al, 2006)
Mayer and Moreno have identified five ways to reduce cognitive overload.
1. Present some information via the visual channel and some via the verbal channel
If all of the content is processed visually i.e. via text, pictures or animations, the visual channel can become overloaded. Using narration transfers some of the content to the verbal channel thereby spreading the load between the channels and improving processing capacity.
2. Break content into smaller segments and allow the learner to control the pace
If the content is complex and the pace is too fast, the learner may not have enough time to effectively process the information. Breaking complex content into smaller chunks and allowing the learner to control the speed of the learning lets them to process the information more effectively.
3. Remove non-essential content
Background music and decorative graphics may appear to make the eLearning more interesting. However, these elements require incidental processing and increase extraneous load. If the content doesn’t support the instructional goal, it should be removed.
4. Words should be placed close as possible to the corresponding graphics
When text is located away from the corresponding graphic, learners are forced to scan the screen in order to align the text to the graphic which requires additional cognitive processing. Placing the text close to the corresponding graphic improves the transfer of information.
5. Don’t narrate on-screen text word-for-word
When on-screen text is narrated, the same information is presented to learners via both channels. Rather than spreading the load, learners are forced to process the same information twice which means that there is a great deal of redundancy. If using narration, the on-screen text should be a summary. (Mayer and Moreno, 2003)
Since blended learning is the use of online and face-to-face teaching techniques to maximize learning, reducing cognitive overload, placing content and activities online using the above guidelines will promote effective, self-directed learning.  Reducing content presentation time during class allows face-to-face time use for guided, peer to peer, differentiated and collaborative learning.
In their work, Is k-12 Blended Learning Disruptive,Christensen, Horn and Staker  define several models of blended learning with different degrees of sustaining and disruptive innovation (Christensen, et al-2013).  A disruptive innovation is one that leads to wide acceptance, creates new markets, and revolutionary change, while a sustaining innovation produces better value without creating new markets with radical change.  Although the approaches outlined in this paper focus on blended learning as a sustaining innovation, and clearly the beginning attempts at developing a disruptive models for blended learning, they have the greatest chance of being used by teachers, and accepted by students, parents, and schools at this juncture.  Disruptive models of blended learning described by Christensen, et al., will develop naturally from the ideas discussed here and the implementations that are possible now.
The Community of Inquiry
The Community of Inquiry (CoI) is a planning  model that facilitates blended learning and is used for implementing change at educational institutions..  The model focuses on three key skills which will facilitate project planning and maximize chances for success. The CoI Framework can be used for both planning and implementation to design new courses and redesign current courses for blended learning.
It would hardly be worth the effort to redesign a course for blended learning if the same material that is currently being taught in a lecture format is put online, and no effort is made to redesign the course for a new approach to learning.  The Community of Inquiry Framework infuses the redesign of courses for blended learning with new approaches to maximize learning.  Flipping the classroom is not enough. The inquiry model and the redesign with Social Presence, Cognitive Presence, and Teaching Presence must form the framework of a redesigned curriculum using the principals of blended learning and the Inquiry Model.  We are not saying here to replace the current curriculum. Content cannot be replaced with new curriculum because secondary classes lead to higher level courses in high school and college.  We cannot hope to reform the current model of education if it will place students at a disadvantage in gaining college entrance and a successful matriculation advantage.   The blended model infused with the Community of Inquiry Framework,  offers the best chance for educational reform.

The Community of Inquiry Framework
The Community of Inquiry applies three basic principles to the solution of institutional problems from overall school operation to individual classes. (Garrison,2008)
Social Presence
There can be no chance for success in institutional planning or individual classes without an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.  Social Presence enables risk free expression, group cohesion and open discourse.  Social presence further leads to emotional bonding and a sense of belonging.  In this way the group members feel valued and participate meaningfully in the group processes. Since a great deal of blended learning involves sharing of ideas in online and class discussions, students must feel that their work is valued, and that they are free to express their opinions and feelings without reservation.  A great deal of the success of a blended learning course is based on the ability of the teacher to create this type of atmosphere. Teachers must model the sharing of personal meaning if they want their students to have meaningful discussions. The highest expression of social presence is love among all members of the group.  The growing field of Social Neuroscience in Education (Cozolino, 2013) emphasizes the importance of belonging to a group in the learning process. Social Presence establishes blended learning. (Garrison,2008)
Development of social presence has particular importance when considering blended learning discussion forums.  Standard online pedagogy requires that for discussions to be effective, it is necessary to adhere to basic procedures that contribute to social presence. Some of these include:
  • Use names when replying to posts.  
  • Read carefully so that wrong meaning is not inferred.  
  • Compliment the person whose post you are replying to
  • Ask questions politely for clarification
  • No sarcasm, slang or put downs
  • Review your post before sending
  • Do not use all caps or emotional punctuation.
  • Be open minded and express your opinion with a statement that identifies its your opinion
The online discussion has rules of engagement that must be followed and its code of conduct discussed and agreed to by all members of the class .  It is the teachers responsibility to set the tone early for these discussions, and to model the correct behavior for establishing social presence.  As teachers gain experience with designing the blended learning course,  thinking in terms of social, cognitive and teaching presence will become a natural part of how we approach the components of blended learning.(Tucker, 2012)
Cognitive Presence is the natural curiosity and passion that makes us want to learn and  is present when the group explores, seeks answers and solutions to issues that confront it through a process of sustained communication directed by social presence(Garrison, 2008). The group brings to bear its already formed knowledge and seeks new knowledge that will inform the solution to the issues faced by the group.  In its highest manifestation, cognitive presence is free of preconceived ideas and prejudices and evaluates knowledge objectively with the aim of arriving at the best solution.  Cognitive presence sustains blended learning.

Cognitive presence is further defined by the Practical Inquiry Model.  Inquiry leads from a Triggering Event-that defines a problem-through exploration, debate and reflection to resolution.  Schrire(2004)
The extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection, discourse, and application.
Triggering Event



Inciting curiosity and defining key questions for investigation

Exchanging and exploring perspectives and information resources with other students

Connecting ideas through reflection

Applying new ideas and/or defending solutions

The triggering event articulates the problem.  The exploration phase seeks knowledge that will help clarify the true nature of the problem.  The integration phase uses previous knowledge and new knowledge and attempts a resolution.  This model can be applied to all phases of blended learning in all subjects.  (Garrison, 2008)
In redesigning a course for blended learning, the teacher should look at their curriculum and attempt to revise approaches to learning to form a curriculum based on inquiry.  Often teachers are tempted to simply take everything they do in a traditional class and make it fit a blended model.  Although the task of redesigning for blended learning and the inquiry method is substantial, the teacher should take advantage of the redesign to revise the approach to curriculum for student centered learning. An example of this approach may be moving from tests that measure memorization of facts to ones that form a basis for inquiry.  Researchers in cognitive learning have proposed the open computer model of testing.  The assessment or assignment should be designed as if the student had access to an Internet connected device.  The ability to find and make sense of information to solve problems is the key skill set of this  generation of students. (Garrison, 2008)
Essential Questions and the Inquiry Model
Blended learning does not change the content of the curriculum, but changes how the curriculum is taught.  A key to the Inquiry Method is framing questions related to existing curriculum that lead students through the inquiry model.  The curriculum is learned using essential questions that engage students and invest them in the work of the class because the questions have personal meaning for students.  Questions in the inquiry model need to be deep questions with an emotional charge that draw students into the discussions and writing assignments.  The teacher, whether online or in face to face sessions, models sharing personal meaning.
While essential questions are central to the learning process in humanities, the design of learning activities in math and science that initiate and sustain group cohesion are of no less value..  Math, science and other technical subjects  present a unique opportunity for discussions related to the solution of exercises and problems.  Consider a class of 15 in an Algebra I class.  Each student is assigned one or more different problems or exercises and asked to do a written narration for the solution to the problem.  In some cases, students might be asked to solve the problem with pencil and paper and then use a smart phone camera to take a picture and attach it to  the discussion post.  In this way all members of  the class can take advantage of the solutions to all problems.  Students could still be required to hand in the entire set of solved problems, but the problem set would become a collaborative effort.  Moreover, students would gain insights into each others problem solving strategies by reading the discussion posts.  

Essential questions satisfy the following criteria.(Wilhelm, 2007)
1.  The question must be relevant to the student.  Students must be able to find personal meaning in the question.  Teachers can prompt students with questions like “what experiences have you had that are related to this question.”
2.  The question must reflect the heart of the discipline being studied.  Teacher prompts relate to how is this issue related to the topic we are studying.
3.  The question should possess emotive force, intellectual bite and edginess that invites students into real-world disciplines.  Teacher prompts focus on their own personal meaning and how do you “feel” about this issue.
4. The question must be complex and open-ended.  One can argue the answers.  Discussions are assigned to respond to other points of view.
5.  Is concise and clearly stated.  Examples of the issues and be included so as to not have misconceptions about what is being asked.
6.  Is linked to data that allow for research in seeking answers.  Answers may not be found in the data, but the data can allow students to form their own answers.
7.  May lead to new questions asked by students which lead to new research.  Prompts by the teacher ask students to respond with issues that may still be unresolved or with how has this topic led to more questions.
While essential questions may be an obvious approach in the humanities, the curriculum in math and science has always used some form of this approach.  Teachers present topics, do examples and assign homework.  Classes often include practice and student may present their solutions to the class. The difference in applying the blended model to math and science classes is that much more time is available for guided practice and mastery that can lead to real world applications.  Consider factoring as a math topic.  Content presentations by the teacher can easily be placed online with pre-quizzes.  Students come to class with having seen and interacted with factoring.  The F2F session is used for practice in small groups and individually.  Peer to peer learning can take place as well as teacher tutoring students who are struggling as identified by the pre-quiz results.  As a further inquiry, examples of how factoring is used to solve a real world problem may be introduced and assigned for online discussion.  the final class meeting on the topic of factoring may be used to clarify remaining misconceptions, go over the real world examples and assessments.
Teaching Presence must embody and model social and cognitive presence, but adds leadership.  In its highest manifestation, teaching presence infuses classes with sharing personal meaning and leads to the emotional bonding needed in Social Presence and the passion for learning needed in Cognitive Presence.   The teacher looks for content,  designs learning experiences, and configures groups for collaborative learning. While an open atmosphere of sustained communication may model the approach, curriculum, in any subject,  must be designed so that the process of finding answers to universal problems leads to new knowledge.  Teaching presence develops blended learning by designing assignments and assessments that are revolutionary in their ability to develop creativity and the intuitive intelligence of the student.  The answers to standard questions in all fields may require research, but development of cognitive ability will require students to formulate answers that they cannot find or to find personal meaning in the responses of others.  The Inquiry Method must challenge students to build new connections, find meaning in large amounts of information and foster the development of convincing writing to express personal meaning.   It is in the online and F2F discussion phases of blended learning that students form awareness of the issues, and in the written assignment that they produce a convincing personal artifact that is the result of the inquiry process.
The principles of a CoI that will establish, sustain and develop blended learning represent the foundation of the successful blended learning course.(Garrison,2008)
Principles of Blended Learning Design and Implementation
Most teachers will be thoroughly at home with the content of their subject and will be adept at interacting with students and managing their courses, but they may not be able to design a learning experience that maximizes learning and involves students in active learning.  This is why teachers fall back on how they were taught and resort to delivering knowledge rather than having students become active in constructing their own knowledge.  Blended learning and the tools available now make it possible to redesign courses for maximum learning and student involvement.
As we begin the design or redesign process, we should keep in mind several key features that the CoI Framework brings to blended learning: fostering the groups social presence, using the inquiry model, designing assignments and  assessments to match your course goals and a redesign of the whole course.
Garrison and Vaughn (2008) have identified five phases of the course redesign process.  This is referred to as the ADDIE Model of Course Redesign.
  1. Analysis- Taking the opportunity to redesign a course may lead to a rethinking of what it means to have completed your course.  What aspects do you want to preserve and which do you want to change?  Will learning facts for identification quizzes be something you want to preserve or replace with more generalized critical thinking skills?

  1. Design-How will you blend online activities and face-to-face activities?  You cannot just put your lectures online.  How will you grade online activities?  Will you use frequent, low stakes grades to increase student participation and buy in?  How will you grade these activities?  What measures should you put in place to insure honesty in completing online assignments?  Will in class assignments be graded differently?  How will you use the online tools to communicate grades and other information?

  1. Development-What resources from your current class will you use for your blended components?  What learning activities will you need to develop to accomplish your learning objectives in the blended environment?  How will you use the LMS to maximize it’s potential for learning?
  2. Implementation-  How will you handle possible student push back?  How will you help students with any technology issues?  What mechanisms are in place to help you and your students with the online content.  How will you plan and manage peer learning in class?  Will the blended learning course lead to reduced face-to-face time and will you be able to justify this reduced face-to-face time?

  1. Evaluation-  How will you gather data to improve future offerings? When and how will you incorporate ongoing surveys, teacher evaluations, and other evaluation tools.

Phases of Blended Learning
You will probably meet your class for the first time in a face-to-face session.   This is the very first opportunity you will have to establish your expectations for the course while still modeling the social, cognitive and teaching presences discussed earlier.  The initial meeting is used to explain the blended learning model and define exactly what is expected of students.   

The first meeting is used to set the tone, model the CoI Framework,  demonstrate the LMS, explain what tools are needed and what is expected.   While posting grading guidelines and rubrics in your course LMS, you will also discuss these in this first meeting.    You will explain what is expected in their online behavior, and etiquette, describe your grading rubrics and the use of the LMS to post and display, or not, personal grades.  You will explain how students will communicate questions, concerns, etc.  Having a one to one discussion for personal communication with the teacher and a general class discussion can be explained.  If you decide to use frequent, low stakes grading(recommended) for their online and in class work, you should explain how you will grade their activities.   

Moreover, a statement of your honor code should be brought up at this time and students should be directed to read and submit an honor agreement online as proof of their having read and understood your expectations.  At first sight this requirement may seem in contradiction to the principle of social presence in the community of inquiry framework, but framing the honor code in a way that will make students understand when and how they can collaborate will strengthen social presence.  Turning in this agreement can count for a low stakes grade.

A further consideration should be discussed regarding your expectations for participation in discussions, wikis and other online work.  How you structure your online work and your face to face work will also depend on your class schedule.  If your school uses a block schedule that meets every other day, you need to be sure that online and face to face meetings are structured so that students have enough time to post comments and replies to comments between your online and face to face meetings.  Discussion topics may span several nights of online postings and replies.  Face to face content should be synchronized with the online content and the reverse also applies.

The redesign process should focus on the cycle discussed below, but you should also think in terms of the two modes of learning:  Online and Face to Face and what the students will do and what the teacher will do in each mode.

Face to Face
Teacher Role

Student Role

After your initial, first day of school  meeting, there are four basic phases of online and face-to-face meetings in each cycle.

  1. Before the Face-to-Face Session-Online.
Learning Activity
Create a Triggering Event

Pre-reading assignment or activity

Followed by a pre-quiz, survey or discussion
Audio/Video presentation
Followed by a quiz, writing, discussion
Tools and Resources
Announcements, assignments, within the LMS
Links to pre-reading assignments
Web based links to readings

Videos, Screen casts
Quizzes, discussions, surveys within the LMS

The first online session of the cycle is used to present material that would otherwise be presented in class.  The online presentation is assigned as homework and is used to initiate the study of a topic.  The topic can be in any discipline:  a proof in geometry, Newton’s Second Law, a Civil War battle, Hamlet’s tragic flaw or the cultural heritage of the Mayan people in Spanish.  
The triggering event is presented online in any number of ways.  The presentation can be a screen cast of a slide presentation, a video detailing the concept from another source, such as Khan Academy, Hippo Campus or a lecture from a MOOC which your students have enrolled in for the purpose of using the MOOC material to supplement and complement your course.  It can also be a reading assignment accompanied by a discussion post to verify and solidify understanding as a first exposure to the topic.  Whatever method is used for the initial topic presentation, it must be accompanied by a series of questions that focus the student’s attention during the reading or online presentation.   The questions can take the form of a simple summary of the topic or a more complex series of questions embedded in the video presentation or given next to the presentation so students can pause, review and answer the questions.   
Students are more likely to participate fully in the online activities if they are given credit for answers to questions.  If the LMS is used to advantage, this process of assigning grades for online activity can be semi-automatic and the practice of frequent,  low stakes grading will motivate students to perform well in all activities and strengthen cognitive presence.
2.   Face-to-Face Sessions are no longer used for information transmission but to diagnose student misconceptions, foster dialog, support peer instruction, extend learning and debrief quizzes or discussions.  
Learning Activity
Debrief online activities
Explain and give examples of grading rubrics
Discuss effective writing, problem solving
Address issues related to student misconceptions
Peer instruction, group work, writing, problem solving
Tools and Resources
Display quiz results or discussion posts
Conduct in-class quizzes and surveys
Classroom performance systems-clickers
Show examples of Past Student Work

After the online activity students will come to class with some knowledge of the triggering event topic, but will have misconceptions or will still be struggling with the topic.  The online pre-quiz assignment that accompanied the initial presentation will give you an indication of who has understood and who still needs more help.   At the beginning of the class you can review the topic and give answers to the pre-quiz questions or present a particularly well-written summary by a student.  This phase has the effect of review, reinforcement and practice.  In math and science classes, the review can then be easily extended to in class work on problems.   In history and English the class time can be used for in-class writing and to get a start on the next portion of the topic or on discussion.  Students can formulate responses in small groups or individually and teachers can help students identified in the pre-quiz as having problems.  
3.    After a Face-to-Face Session-Online
Learning Activity
Further reading/writing
Problem sets in math and science
Discussions, group work, case studies
Opinion or Research paper assignments
Write portions of paper in discussions for teacher and peer comments
Read new document-discuss what this did or did not resolve for you.
Tools and Resources
LMS discussion forums and group Wikis
Reflective journals, blogs, personal Wikis
Teacher uses discussion posts to comment on writing and suggest strategies
Forums can be personal, small group or class-wide.

The next online session is used to further reinforce, extend and inquire.  Here one can use the discussion post as an exercise in writing about the topic and extending ideas related to the topic.  In math and science, students can continue work on a problem set while using discussion posts to ask questions and report particular difficulties they may be having.  History and English classes can assign students to begin a paper and post it online in a discussion post that will allow you to make comments and suggestions.  
LMS discussions can be designed to be private, small group or open to the whole class.  You may decide that initial posts are made to a private discussion that only you and the student have access to or you may feel that posts should be open to the whole class so students can benefit from each other’s ideas.  In traditional classes, student papers are mostly private.   Allowing students to benefit from each other’s work and the teacher’s comments on work done by students will enhance the learning potential of an assignment.  Since online discussions will be a very big part of any blended learning course,  particular attention needs to be devoted to how to conduct effective discussions.  Social, cognitive and teaching presence all play a large role.  If comments made by the teacher are substantive, but lack social presence, they will not be well received and  their impact will be reduced.  Examples of what teachers must model if discussions are to be effective include:
  • Expression of emotion
  • Self-disclosure
  • Continuing a student’s thread
  • Using other messages as sources or quotes
  • Asking questions
  • Agreeing with other posts and making complementary remarks of appreciation
Moreover students need to be given grade credit for discussion posts, based on posted rubrics, in a strategy of frequent low stakes grading.   LMSs make it easy to quickly review and assign a grade to a post.  They also make it easy to view all posts from one student at the same time regardless of the thread so a teacher is able to assign a grade based on quality and quantity of posts.
  1. Next Face-to-Face Session
Learning Activity
Review online work, discussions, problem sets, writing
Group or individual presentations, critiques
In class assessments, quizzes, writing
Begin next topic presentation
Cycle back to number 1.
Tools and Resources
Use LMS discussion posts for review
Discuss/display assignment submissions
Presentation tools to introduce next topic

In the final session of the cycle, the material is again reviewed and final questions and misconceptions addressed.  Particularly good work is shown to the class.  In-class assessments in the form of tests or writing assignments are given here.  If more time is needed to finish a topic, a portion of the cycle may repeat, but course planning should allow you to stick close to the four session model for covering material.   Lab classes may need more time to complete a lab and will need to plan that into the cycle.   The important point here is that course planning will allow you to create a structure that will work most of the time.  Should more time be needed, you can make adjustments.  It is more important to think in terms of what you will do in any one session and what the students will do in that same session and what sessions will be online and what sessions will be face-to-face.
This guide is in no way complete and does not intend to trivialize the process of course redesign for blended learning.  The redesign process is a daunting process that will require a great deal of time to be done effectively.  Schools who recognize the value of this approach and its potential to transform learning will provide the necessary incentives in time and money to support faculty who want to move ahead.  More importantly, schools need to invest in the professional development of faculty and expose them to these ideas while promoting innovation that has the potential of changing the entire educational landscape.  There has been no educational innovation that has captured the attention of so many people so quickly.  New online assessment tools are coming and will make blended learning an even more attractive alternative to the traditional classroom.   Before this innovation can become truly disruptive on a large scale, schools must put in place mechanisms that sustain and promote blended learning development. (Caulfield, 2011) 
Examples of course redesigns from various disciplines follow that may help you in your redesign work.  A summer may not  be sufficient time to re-design. When instruction begins in the fall you may not be completely ready and you may simply add online components to your traditional class.  This may have the effect of piling on additional work which students will resist and which will diminish the effectiveness of the online components. You may feel that you want to take the entire year to redesign your course while you are teaching in a traditional way.  This approach has the benefit of seeing how you could have approached a topic or module differently if your class were blended. You should definitely plan on a complete course re-design.
Examples of Course Re-designs
Since discussions in the humanities and social sciences will play a large role in course redesign, a detailed summary of the design of a discussion topic may be helpful. (Caulfieled, 2011)
Triggering Event
Hi Everyone,,
In Moby Dick, the sermon delivered by the minister before the men go to sea prepares them for the voyage and possible death and destruction.  Read The Sermon from Chapter 9 of Moby Dick.  Prepare a one page essay on the ultimate meaning of life as it is expressed in the sermon and exemplified by Jonah. Include in your essay how this sermon’s theme is a foreshadowing of the outcome of the novel.  In wrapping up, the minister describes how the story of Jonah speaks to him personally in urging him to always speak the truth in the face of falsehood. In what ways is falsehood present in your world, in general,  today and in your life in particular and how should you face the world using (Sermon delivered by Orson Wells in the “Moby Dick” movie-  ) the lessons expressed in the sermon? Remember to refer to the grading rubric in writing  your essay and to emphasize the meaning of falsehood in your life and how the sermon speaks to you on a personal level.  This essay is an assignment worth 50 points.
Your essay is to be posted in the discussion forum for this assignment and due on Dec. 12.  The F2F class will follow the assignment on Dec. 14.  Be prepared to discuss and defend  your essay. You will need to reply to, at least, two posts from your classmates.  These replies will also be graded and are due by Dec. 15.
All the Best,

Steps and Rationale for the Writing/Discussion Assignment.
1. The learning objective is clearly stated.

2. The due date and the date for the F2F followup are clearly identified.

3.  Students are told how much their work will be worth.

4. The topic for the future F2F followup are identified.

5.  Students are first asked to reflect on the content by writing in preparation for the F2F meeting.

6.  In the essay students are asked to apply general and personal contexts.

7.  Students have access to a rubric which identifies how their work will be evaluated.

8.  Correspondence to the students includes a greeting and a closing signature.

9. F2F Discussion
Students recognize what is to be learned and can assess the value of the work. Work that is based on intrinsic motivating factors and made personal is more likely to be learned.

Integration written online and F2F work is made obvious so that there is a two way connection that students can identify.

Grades are intrinsic motivators and recognizing the importance of the assignment in relation to overall course grade will help them decide how much effort to put into the assignment.

Reflection for future F2F work is identified.

Higher levels of cognitive skills are required to complete the work.  Students are asked to think about the assignment in relation to personal experience.  Students must feel safe, Social Presence,  for personal sharing to be successful.

The rubric heightens student awareness of important points and better prepares the student for effective learning.

Actions that assist in creating social presence

Gives students a chance to broaden and possibly modify their perspective.

Blended Ancient History Example
Online-Students read sources related to historical events, and the qualities of the hero from Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  The reading could be from a textbook, but could also be supplied by the teacher as a PDF posted on the LMS.  Associated with the reading is a pre-quiz that students submit online.  Low stakes grades are given for the pre-quiz.  An exampble would be 10 questions worth 20 points total.  Questions are designed to be non-factual, but should be short answers.
Face to Face-Open questions and answers about the reading assignment and pre-quiz.  Misconceptions are addressed.  Class discussion continues.  Students are divided into groups and given a concept or essential question to discuss.  What are the qualities of the Greek Hero?  Have these qualities changed with time and how are they relevant in our own time?  Do you feel that they are relevant to you now? Do you personally seek to embody the classical qualities of a hero? Give an example from literature of the person or persons who you feel embody your conception of a hero or heroine.  
Online-Students post to a discussion forum on a synthesis of what they have gained from the class discussion on the previous day.  They extend the discussion to crystallize the concept of the hero for our time and personally for them.  They are asked to post meaningfully, and share personal meaning.  Grades are given for their initial post and for replies to at least two of their classmates posts.  Grades are based on a rubric previously discussed and posted on the LMS.
Face to Face-Students and teacher share their most meaningful outcomes from the discussion forum.  They may be asked to work as a group to establish the heroic qualities they have read about in the posts.  An in-class writing assignment could follow as the concluding assessment to the topic.
Blended Algebra Example
Math is a subject that may not lend itself to finding personal meaning, but the joy of finding solutions to problems may have a similar effect in helping students become engaged and invested in the subject.
Online-A video made by the teacher or from someplace like Khan Academy is assigned with a series of questions related to the video making up the pre-quiz.  A few sample problems from a worksheet or posted online are given as homework.  Students submit their answers to the problems and both the pre-quiz and problem set are graded.
Face to Face-The teacher starts by asking if there are any difficulties and uses the results of the pre-quiz and problem set to see if everyone is on the same page.  The class can next be divided into small groups and each group given a set of problems to solve of a more complex nature than the ones given for the online assignment.  The group can be structured so that there are students of differing abilities, or similar abilities can be grouped so students cannot rely on other students to so all the work.  
Online-Each member of a group is asked to post a solution to a problem in a discussion forum.  The forum could include narration that asks students to post their thought process in solving the problems.  The entire set of problems given to all groups is assigned as an assignment to be handed in.  Students are encouraged to solve the problems for themselves, but will have the solutions posted online as a backup should they need assistance.
Face to Face-Final misconceptions are addressed and new more challenging material, maybe taken from real world problems, can assigned or gone over in class.In-class quizzes can be given to give final assessments for the topic.

Blended English Example
Online-Read and discuss one or more chapters from a book that is part of the curriculum.  Students could have the book as a hard copy or a chapter could be supplied online as a pdf.  The teacher records a short introduction to the book and chapter and describes what students could be looking for in the reading.  A pre-quiz is associated with the book so that students can answer it as they read.
Face to Face-Based on the chapter and the results of the pre-quiz, which can be conceptual as well as factual in scope, a discussion is begin based on the chapter and its theme; courage, faith, honor, betrayal, etc.  One or more chapters are again assigned for homework with the same structure as the first online assignment.
Online-In addition to the continued reading assignmed from the previous fact to face class, Students are asked to post to a discussion forum and reply to at least one other classmate’s post.  
Face to Face- Based on the discussion posts from the online assignment, students form small groups and develop a consensus on the theme/s they are studying in the novel.  Students are asked to do in class writing on a device that they can then use to submit to the dropbox or they could be assigned a discussion post as in class writing.  
The Role of School Administrations
The process of redesigning an entire course for blended learning is time consuming and intense.  Faculty with interests in design or redesign need support and encouragement from the school administration.  Support can come in the form of time off to redesign, financial assistance to show value for their work, and clerical and technical help.  Reduced teaching loads, weeks off during the normal school year to devote to redesign, and redesign grants are all ways that administrations can show support for teachers.  To help facilitate these forms of support, faculty can prepare detailed proposals that provide administrations with concrete evidence that they have a plan and need assistance to carry it out.  Higher education faculty can apply for and are awarded substantial assistance, both in the form of money and time.  These approaches can and should be implemented by administrations to provide teachers who want to teach in new ways.  Past years have seen a large amount of financial resources devoted to hardware and software, while professional development has often been the last area to be addressed in school planning.  Indeed this may be the reason why technology has not been able to transform education.  We are in a time of rapid change in education.  The methods that teachers learned while they were students no longer apply, but teachers don’t receive the necessary training after they start work to learn new methods.  It is generally assumed that teachers should learn these new methods on their own and that it is part of their job.  However, the flaw in this argument is that the rapid changes that are taking place require significant assistance to learn and implement and they cannot be carried out by faculty while they are working full time.  Moreover, administrations that have not made support for faculty innovation part of their school’s strategic plan, can still choose to support individual teachers who have a passion for innovation.
In their white paper on blended learning and disruptive innovations, Chritensen, et. el recommend the following steps be instituted by school leaders to facilitate the development of a strategic direction for blended and online learning:
1.Create a team within the school that is autonomous from all aspects of the traditional classroom.
2. Focus disruptive blended-learning models initially on areas of non-consumption.
3. When ready to expand beyond areas of non-consumption, look for the students with less demanding performance requirements.
4. Commit to protecting the fledgling disruptive project.
5. Push an innovation-friendly policy.
Critical Questions from the NAIS report on Developing a Strategic Approach to Online and Blended Learning, further give guidance to school administrations who want to begin the process of change.
1. How will online offerings support or distract from the school’s unique brand and
2. In developing online learning, what opportunities will schools have to build on their existing programs, goals, and strengths?
3. How will online learning help the school sustain mission-based goals such as
community and global outreach, diversity, equity of access, and creating lifelong learners?
4. How will school leadership articulate the rationale for online learning and build
widespread consensus for its adoption?
5. How will administrators and faculty be engaged in the development, implementation, modeling, and evaluation of online learning programs?
6. How will school leadership incorporate technology and staffing needs for online learning into strategic planning?
7. How will the school create a sustainable financial model for the online learning component of its program factoring in the blend of potential additional tuition revenues and additional costs (salaries and technology systems), depending on the delivery mechanism (current staff, new staff, consortia or other providers)?
8. How will the school address contractual implications and equity in teaching loads for teachers who teach online courses at the school or through an outside vendor?
9. How will the school manage online coursework outside its accredited curricula; and how will it handle grades, workload, credits and transcripts for online learning when the course comes from a consortium or outside vendor?
10. What are the essential conditions for success in online learning when supplementing current teaching practices with online learning or when offering it as a completely separate initiative? How do either or both of these two models coexist with or change the current pedagogical culture of practice of the school?
11. What are the school’s implicit and explicit online learning expectations of students (how do they interface with standard academic policies), and how does the school communicate these expectations to prospective and current families?
12. How will online learning impact and ideally enable the school's continuity of program and legal/fiduciary obligations in the event of emergency closures?
Institutions must provide the means to move ahead which must include the knowledge of how to teach in new ways and the support to address time, assistance, and grants of financial assistance that allow faculty to be reworded for their work..  Moreover, an effective strategy should encourage the development of teams. Developing and sharing resources, research and work will greatly facilitate change.

 Glossary of Terms Used in Blended Learning

1.  Community of Inquiry Framework-A group planning model that informs the structure of the group’s work in solving problems, completing projects or learning in a class..  The CoI Framework is composed of three principles: Social Presence, Cognitive Presence and Teaching Presence.

2. Social Presence-In the Community of Inquiry Framework, Social Presence establishes trust, mutual respect and the willingness to share personal meaning among members of the class.

4.  Cognitive Presence- In the Community of Inquiry Framework,  Cognitive Presence establishes an approach to learning for the class using the Inquiry Model. Cognitive Presence promotes passion for learning by framing problems that have personal meaning for the members of the class..

5. Teaching Presence-In the Community of Inquiry Framework,  Teaching Presence must embody Social and Cognitive Presence, but adds leadership.  Teaching Presence designs and implements meaningful activities for the class that promote active learning, and models the sharing of personal meaning.

6. Sharing Personal Meaning-Part of the role of Social Presence in discussions where questions have meaning from the point of view of a student’s life experiences.  Teachers must model sharing personal meaning in their classes to establish social presence.

7. Essential Questions-Part of the Inquiry Model in Cognitive Presence where questions are charged with emotional components that require the sharing of personal meaning to be answered completely.  By structuring questions in this way and in combination with the principle of Social Presence, students are motivated to participate meaningfully in learning.

8. Screen Casting-Capturing the activity on your computer screen and audio.  A teacher makes a presentation using a PowerPoint presentation or a PDF or any other type of media and talks over the content as it changes while recording the audio and video to a movie that will be used as a presentation online.

9. Embed the Web-A tool for placing media on a webpage of the LMS so that the media plays or is visible directly on the page rather than as a link.

10. Pre-Quiz-A quiz embedded in the LMS and associated with content presentation online.  The pre-quiz is used to check student understanding of the material presented in a screen cast.  A pre-quiz is usually constructed from multiple choice or short answer questions in Google Forms.

11. Cognitive Overload- Occurs when too much material of too difficult a nature is presented too quickly for someone to process and achieve understanding.

12.  Working Memory-The portion of the brain that is responsible for making sense and retaining of material that a person is experiencing at a given time.

13. Long Term Memory-The portion of the brain that stores memories and information from past experiences that may need to be brought to bear to understand information that is currently being presented..  The place in the brain where information is stored and reproduced.

14. Metacognitive Data-The ways in which a person experiences and achieves understanding of information.  Visual, auditory, and  experiential are examples of ways a person may best process and understand information.  Understanding a person’s metacognitive preferences may lead to structuring learning experiences for better understanding. The teacher may ask the learners to keep a diary of their classes in which they can note what they liked and didn't like and why.

15. Extraneous Load-Environmental and mental distractions during a learning session that can interfere with processing information and achieving understanding and retention.

16. Intrinsic Load-The information in a class that is being presented at any given time and that is the objective of a lesson or presentation.  

17. Blended Learning-The use of online learning experiences and face to face class meetings to achieve better outcomes in learning.  Extraneous load is reduced by presenting content online, and face to face meeting can be used for collaboration, differentiated learning and one on one teacher help..  

18. Flipped Classroom-A special category of Blended Learning that presents content online and uses class, face to face, time for doing homework and studying with the teacher present for assistance..

19. Inquiry Model-A model of learning that presents a topic for learning in the form of questions and moves from presentation of a problem or topic to exploration, integration, resolution and application.

20. LMS-An online learning management system such as Haiku.

21. Four Phases of Blended Learning- The four phases of blended learning consisting of online content presentation, face to face meeting, online presentation and/or activity and face to face meeting.  The four phases are meant to be a guideline only and topics may take any number or combinations of online and face to face meetings.

22. ADDIE-A planning tool for redesigning courses for blended learning. The process of redesign goes through Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

23. MOOCs-Massive Open Online Courses offered by a number of different consortia such as Coursera, EdX and others that are completely online courses, and free for anyone in the world.  Typical numbers of students enrolled are in the thousands.  May be used by students in a blended learning class to supplement and complement the subject of study.

24.  Discussion Board Grading Rubrics-a set of guidelines for assigning grades to discussion posts and replies to posts that facilitate a strategy of frequent, low stakes grades.

Rubrics for Grading Discussions
There are many forms of discussion post grading rubrics.  One sample is listed below and others, simpler and more complex, can be found in the references.  Your grading rubrics should be published in the LMS so students can refer to them in framing their posts.  In the above assignment, replies were not expressly assigned, but if they were, grading, based on the rubrics would apply to replies.

Course Redesign Proposals
The following course redesign proposal will supply a template for thinking about the redesign process and will allow teachers seeking assistance to present a substantive proposal to administrations. (Garrison, 2008)  
Blended Learning Course Redesign Proposal
Applicant Information
Collaborating Applicant Information (collaborating with one or more faculty is encouraged)
Lead Applicant Signature:
Department Chair Approval:
Division Principal Approval:
Part I - Project Detail
Name of Course
  • Is this a new course or a course for redesign
  • Place the course in context in a short paragraph by describing student learning outcomes, content, primary teaching methods currently used-for example, Biology course, students gain basic knowledge and concepts primarily through readings, lectures, and inquiry projects.
  • How many sections of this course are typically offered each year?
  • How many total students per section, on average?
  • Time Frame-when do you hope to offer the course for the first time and will it be a one semester or a full year course?
  • When will you and any collaborators begin working on your design or redesign project?
  • Current Course Outline

Part II Project Goals and Rationale
  • Articulate how this project involves innovative course design rather than simply a series of minor changes. Describe what you hope to accomplish with this project and list the primary goals. How will both effective pedagogy and resource efficiencies be realized? Describe your vision for this course as a inquiry, how it will involve blended learning, how evaluation will be consonant with the inquiry aspect of the course, and how it contributes to the school’s mission statement.
  • Specifically, how it will assist your faculty and department? Detail how you believe it will affect your teaching and your students’ learning.
  • Indicate if the students taking the course will need any special resources (for example, daily computer access).
  • Why is this project important? What are the key design or redesign issues? How is blended learning essential to the improved delivery of this course? Who will be involved and what resources will be needed.
  • How will this project involve all faculty, staff or stakeholders important to ensuring success?
Part III: Project Evaluation and Sustainability Plans
  • List each of your project’s goals and describe your plan for assessing the extent to which they are being achieved. How will you make use of student survey and self-evaluation instruments along with assessments by other organizations within the school that can assess the efficacy of the redesign project?
  • How will you plan for sustainability within the institution and share your results and designs with others in the school?

Part IV: Budget
  • If this award is intended to be applied toward release time for development, or financial assistance, state who will be released, when, for how long and at what projected cost. Of if the award is to be used to support your additional work on the redesign project, how much do you feel will supply an adequate compensation for your time. Detail any other funds that are being requested to complete the project.  

In summary, implementing blended learning should be part of every school’s strategic planning.  The steps outlined in this paper, and expanded upon in the references,  should give faculties and administrations the necessary rationale and strategic planning guidelines to move ahead with a professional development plan that will align with their mission of providing excellence in education.

Blended Learning in Grades 4-12-Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student Centered Classrooms-2012 by Catlin R. Tucker
Blended Learning in Higher Education-Framework, Principles and Guidelines-2008 by D. Randy Garrison and Norman D. Vaughan
The Effect of Screen Casting to Manage Cognitive Load-2010 by Ramsey Musallam
Interaction and Cognition in Asynchronous Computer Conferening-2004 by S. Schrire
How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course-2011 by Jay Caulfield
Engaging Readers and Writers with Inquiry-2007 by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
The Social Neuroscience of Education-2013 by Louis Cozolino, PhD.
Is k-12 Blended Learning Disruptive-2013, by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn and Heather Staker
NAIS Report and Guide to Establishing a Strategy for Online and Blended Learning-2011.
Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load (2006) by Ruth Colvin Clark, Frank Nguyen and John Sweller. Pfeiffer
Mayer, R. E. & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist. 38, (1), 43-52.