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How can we instructors turn a face-to-face class into a blended class?
Here's a memo that I wrote to one of my supervisors...
I have a procedure that I think works well. I call it "blending the classwork"
a. a week before the class starts, I get the class roster with the phone numbers
b. I send a text message (to introduce myself) to each of the numbers. If the number isn't a mobile, then I call the person.
Hello. I'm your instructor in PERT. Please reply. You will learn faster if you bring questions to class. You can start by sending me an email to TLASteve@gmail.com. Or you can reply by a text with your email address. I look forward to seeing you in class. BRING QUESTIONS. You can start by visiting www.FloridaTestPrep.com, my website for test prep review.
(It's a long message...)
WHY? The class of the future involves "blending." Some items online, some items face to face.
Students also learn through anticipation. When I ask them to produce questions, there is a hole in their minds that is waiting to be filled. Not a general "I don't get math" but a very specific place.
c. I get the student's email address and ask the student to look at videos ... so they are ready to work the math exercise in class.
I suggest this procedure because there is ample evidence that having a "first contact" before the class starts is a way to amplify the experience.
Political campaigns talk about "making contact" with voters at least 7 times.
A short course like PERT or SAT (4 or five meetings) is not enough time to establish the learning quickly, particularly at one-week gaps between class meetings. The email contact is a way to remind students about what was learned in the previous week.
I hope this is helpful. Using email and text messages is a way for teachers to create a "mixed"' or "blended" classroom without a lot of online time. It's not the number of hours of contact, it's often the number of contacts per week that makes the difference.
Compare what happens in the brain:
Traditional face to face class
Show up to the class and listen to the teacher for 3 hours once a week.
Face to face class = 3 hours
three email messages, each with a 5 minute video, followed by a 5 minute exercise and the need to send a message to the instructor... plus the 3 minutes to read the reply from the instructor: 13-minutes x 3 emails per week = 39 additional minutes of thinking time by the student.
Time taken by instructor:
3 minutes to send the initial email x 3 emails = 9 minutes per week of lesson preparation.
3 messages x 4 minutes for the reply (a bulk email to the students) = another 12 minutes of work...
If I can get a student to think for 39 minutes in the week with just 21 minutes of input by me, that's a good week.
TIP ABOUT THE REPLY
In a class of 10 students, I have 3 messages x 4 minutes and I can bulk reply to the 10 students (addressing in general their concerns.)
The key for success with the blended or online "add-on" for the face to face class is MORE CONTACTS.
I hope this is helpful. If this kind of procedure could be shared and other tips added, the concept of "blending" could make our school's courses more effective.
So, what can we do?
a. Learn more about the Transformation of Education
b. Get to know the research about blended classes
c. Figure out how to get our materials online