HS-2250A - Introduction to Health Promotion

Jen Irwin(excerpts from SCoRe Summary Report prepared by Dr. Irwin)

What were your goals in redesigning the course as a blended offering?

The goals of creating a blended course for HS2250 were to provide students with digital/online opportunities to enhance their understandings of the course material and to accommodate differing learning preferences through self-paced content reviewing and/or self-reflection related to the course content.

What specific course components, assignments or learning experiences were developed and/or redesigned?

Additional learning resources established for the course included: online recorded lectures, online modules, online text-based practice quizzes, and an instant messaging system where the instructor is provided with real-time feedback from students. By adding different online components, this course was refined to bring some key information from the textbook to a different format and to ensure that the instructor and the students were moving consistently at the same pace.

What do you consider innovative about your course redesign?

Although many folks on campus are using a lot of technology in their courses, the redesign feels innovative to me, personally, because I am not overly comfortable with technology, and now my large, required course, includes online components that students can choose to utilize to enhance their learning, comprehension, and engagement in the course. I appreciate that students have a strong relationship with technology in their daily lives, and HS2250a now includes components that (I hope) resonate with a greater variety of learning preferences.

Who has benefitted from the course redesign, and in what ways?

I think students, Teaching Assistants, and myself (the Instructor) all benefited from the course redesign.

For students, there were more opportunities provided to: engage with the material if they wished to do so (i.e., a variety of online modules, connecting with course staff and other students in ‘real-time’ during lectures to get clarification of information they missed); assess their comprehension of the textbook materials (i.e., online practice quizzes for each chapter); attend lectures ‘virtually’ from alternate locations (i.e., if out of town or ill, they did not have to miss lecture because they could login and attend); and catch-up on any missed lecture material (i.e., students could review the recorded lectures as many times as they wanted).

For the Teaching Assistants, the questions posed of them, by students, during office hours and through email communications were less focused on “can you repeat the lecture material” and more comprehension-based questions, which made better use of their time and expertise.

For me, as the Instructor, I feel that I provided a more robust course experience for students, and that is important to me. It was also helpful to be able to track the students who did/did not take advantage of the online opportunities (e.g., some students vocalized their displeasure with their midterm grades, and it was helpful for me to be able to offer them the feedback that less than half of the class took advantage of the practice quizzes and as such, I was able to reflect from an evidence-based lens, the importance of them taking responsibility for ensuring they are doing all they can to support their learning). I also find it very helpful to have recorded lectures for the entire term – being able to direct students to these resources has saved me a substantial amount of time that I would have previously spent helping students find someone in the class with whom to share notes that they missed. Also, if I ever need to use a lecture in a coming year due to unforeseen circumstances, it is comforting to know that I have this backup option.

How, if at all, has your SCoRe experience affected your approach to course design and / or teaching?

I think the SCoRe process has been beneficial in many ways.

First, I see the value in the technology our team chose for this redesign, and I appreciate that we chose technology options that suit the course and its objectives, rather than choosing technology for the sake of having technology (a concern I previously had about technology in my classroom).

Second, revisiting the learning objectives of the course at the beginning of the process helped me to reconnect with what I wanted to provide through this course, and that was very meaningful to me as a teacher.

Third, working with a supportive team of experts in their various areas made the redesign a more thoughtful and thorough process because these folks provided lenses that I did not have myself. As a result, I am less intimidated by using classroom technology in my teaching than I was at the start of this process, and that is no small thing.

Last, I have always loved teaching, and through the SCoRe experience, I feel that I am a more purposeful teacher; I reflect more regularly on why I am doing what I am doing, and in what ways what I am doing is in service of the course objectives.

How, if at all, has technology improved your classroom learning experience?

I feel the addition of the technology our team chose has been very beneficial for students and myself because it supports more varied learning preferences, allows students to choose to enhance their learning through engaging with opportunities that did not previously exist (e.g., practice quizzes, modules, reviewing lectures), and it allows the instructor to point students to these various opportunities and invite them to take more responsibility for achieving their course success goals.

Having been a SCoRe participant, what advice would you offer your colleagues if they ask you about blended learning?

My advice absolutely would be to consider the blended learning options that UWO supports. There are many experts to whom we have access as faculty, who can help and who genuinely seem to want to help us enhance our classroom experiences. Upon deciding to integrate blended learning into a course, I think it is important to realize that things tend to take longer than planned when learning how to integrate new technologies into the classroom. As such, my advice is to plan for more time than you think you will need (i.e., I estimate this to be about 1.5 to 2 times what you think you will need). Also, make sure to try out ALL of the technologies prior to the first class to make sure they all work as intended (I was VERY grateful that our team met multiple times in August before classes started, to realize our original plan of running everything from the laptop did not work in that classroom, so that on day one, we had a system in place for making everything work – it was very well worth the time invested during the practice run-throughs).