Preparing for Blended Instruction

The following steps can help you consider your instructional approach and guide you to resources for successful implementation:

  1. Prepare Yourself for Online Instruction: Blackboard Learn TM is the web-based course management system used at CMU. We offer the following orientation and training opportunities for using Blackboard to incorporate online learning components in your courses.
  2. Review the Master Course Syllabus: As you think about the course learning objectives, which objectives would be better achieved online and which would be best achieved in your on-the-ground course?
  3. Focus on the Big Picture: How will the face-to-face and online components of your course be integrated into a single seamless experience? It is important that students understand your expectations for their face-to-face and online activities, including how these contribute to their final grade. Make sure you outline the course clearly in your syllabus.
  4. Consider Your Students and Their Needs: Students may have anxiety about the online learning portion of your course, especially when it comes to navigating Blackboard, scheduling their work, and managing their time with online assignments. What do you plan to do to help your students address these issues and effectively facilitate their learning?
  5. Check Their Tech: Students sometimes have difficulty acclimating to the course Blackboard shell and to other instructional technologies you may be using for on-the-ground and online activities. What specific technologies will you use for the online and face-to-face portions of your course? What proactive step can you take to assist students to become familiar with your Blackboard course shell and any other incorporated instructional technologies?
  6. Communicate Your Plan: Make sure your course syllabus and any other supporting materials (e.g., in Blackboard) clearly include the course plan, meeting dates, and online requirements.
  7. Practice with a Colleague: It is one thing to thoughtfully prepare your course, but another to view the course from the perspective of your students. Consider enrolling a trusted colleague in your course and use them as a student to practice a live meeting session, try out grading or rubric structures, and ask them to look for obvious stumbling blocks as they navigate the course.
  8. Commit to Continual Assessment: No one gets it perfectly right the first time (or oftentimes even the second) as the various factors that go into any course change frequently. Review your student feedback and consider how your past experiences can inform your blended delivery. Also, consider how you will seek and use feedback during this course.