Blog Entry #5 Redux – Wach, Broughton, and Powers

Wach, Howard, Laura Broughton, and Stephen Powers. “Blending in the Bronx: The Dimensions of Hybrid Course Development at Bronx Community College.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 1 (2011): 87. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014.

In this article, Wach, Broughton, and Powers describe a faculty development program at Bronx Community College (BCC) in which faculty members are trained in hybrid course delivery over a six month period (June to January). BCC, a branch of City University of New York (CUNY) is very supportive of a move toward hybrid course delivery as it helps use an online environment to build an active, collaborative learning environment in blended versions of high-enrollment courses. Wach, Broughton, and Powers explain the faculty training program that requires a six month program beginning with a face-to-face workshop (on topics such as pedagogy, best practices, content presentation, disability accommodations, instructor presence, facilitation of communication, collaboration, and assessment) lead by experienced online instructors. After the initial workshop, course-developers (instructors in training) spend several months developing an online hybrid course with the oversight of peer mentors and student technological assistants who help faculty and students with technical assistance, tutor student peers on content-related issues, and assist faculty with content presentation. The development and assessment of hybrid courses is guided by the use of several types of documents: a contract created by the new instructor outlining how the course will be developed, a teaching guide that outlines best practices and expectations for instructors, a learning unit planning guide emphasizing engagement, collaboration, and improvement of student learning generally, and an online course development checklist that new course-developers use for self-evaluation through the development process. In November, following course development, mentors, guided by a rubric, perform an evaluation of the newly developed course and make suggestions for revision. Revisions are made in preparation for the course to be launched the January following the beginning of the program.

I chose to review this article because of its relevance to my own project of creating an effective hybrid course and then creating a workshop describing how such a course could effectively be created. That BCC has such a streamlined, formal process for the training of new hybrid instructors is very impressive, but without such strong institutional support for such faculty development, similar lengthy training programs would be difficult to undertake, particularly since those involved receive incentives from the institution to teach hybrid courses and act as peer mentors. While not all institutions have the same goals, interests, or resources, the program at BCC seems to be a good model for making a concerted effort toward increasing the number of hybrid courses as well as the quality, so anyone interested in faculty development and departmental or institutional moves toward increasing hybrid offerings would have in interest in examining this model. One thing that I felt was missing was a deeper discussion of the theory or ideology driving BCC’s and CUNY’s move toward hybrid courses, as such justification for course development could be useful to others.

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