Building a Learning Community and Authentic Assessment into a Hybrid Course
AbstractA review of the literature on blended learning, called hybrid courses at the author’s university, reveals that such learning “can be as successful as either online or face to face instruction” (Vignare, 2007). Blended learning has been defined as 1. “Courses that integrate online with traditional face‐to‐face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner; and 2. Where a portion of face‐to‐face time is replaced by online activity” (Laster et al., 2005). Learning communities arise as people address recurring sets of problems together and engage with each other in a collective learning process. In a classroom setting, this process typically involves active and collaborative learning activities that may extend beyond the classroom (Palloff and Pratt, 2005). Learning community participation has been found to be positively linked to engagement, student self‐reported outcomes and overall college satisfaction (Zhao & Kuh, 2004). Authentic assessments of student outcomes are based on real life situations in classroom settings (Smith, 2008). In this presentation, the author demonstrates how the technology that supports a hybrid course (senior level outdoor recreation management class) can be used to create both a learning community and authentic assessment, with the added twist that the learning community assists the instructor in the development of the assessment tools and the evaluation of student efforts. The author also supplies data from four years of student surveys regarding satisfaction with a hybrid course and the optimum number of in‐class versus online sessions. Palloff, R. & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: learning together in community. San Francisco: Jossey‐Bass. Smith, R. (2008). Conquering the content: a step‐by‐step guide to online course design. San Francisco: Jossey‐Bass. Vignare, K. (2007). Review of literature blended learning: using ALN to change the classroom—will it work? Pp. 37‐63 in A. Picciano & C. Dziuban (eds.). Blended learning: research perspectives. Needham, MA: Sloan‐C. Zhao, C. & Kuh, D. (2004). Adding value: learning communities and student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 45, 115‐138.