July Conference a Unique Opportunity to Obtain a Deep Understanding of the Many Aspects of Blended Learning

July Conference a Unique Opportunity to Obtain a Deep Understanding of the Many Aspects of Blended Learning
By jfredrick779 • June 27, 2013

Contributed by George Lorenzo, Senior Writer, Editor & Publisher, Lorenzo Associates, Inc.
A conference devoted to the purposeful, strategic and comprehensive approach to blended teaching and learning.

“A conference devoted to the purposeful, strategic and comprehensive approach to blended teaching and learning.”

Faculty, staff and administrators interested in learning about blended learning from a broad and highly informative perspective will not want to miss the upcoming opportunity to attend the 10th Annual Sloan-C Blended Learning Conference and Workshop, to be held July 8-9 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as well as virtually. The full conference, titled “Trend to Blend: Lessons from the Field,” includes access to keynote, plenary addresses, workshops and presentations being offered by the world’s foremost experts in the field of blended learning.

Addressing the Big Trends
Program Chair Charles R. Graham, from Brigham Young University, notes that a plenary session titled “Research in Blended Learning: Where are We Now and What are Future Challenges and Needs?” features an in-depth discussion with George Mehaffy from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Heather Staker from the Clayton Christensen Institute, and Anders Norberg from Skellefteå Council/Umeå University in Sweden.

“George Mehaffy will emphasize some of the big trends happening in blended learning, such as the use of learning analytics and data to help institutions determine what kind of blended learning environments they’d like to develop as well as what kind of improvements institutions already offering blended learning courses and programs can implement,” Graham said. Additionally, Staker will talk about how blended learning is disrupting education and creating a space for improved performance of online learning, and Norberg will be providing information about the European perspective and the international research available on this topic.

Best Practices on Faculty Development
Inside a featured session titled “Blended Learning Faculty Development Practices & Models in Traditional Higher Education Institutions,” presenters Liz Ciabocchi and Amy Ginsberg from Long Island University will be directing their presentation toward institutional leaders and administrators, helping them sort through the best practices relative to offering faculty development programs. The information they are presenting is based on more than 100 responses they collected from a survey of traditional, not-for-profit institutions. “We will give a snapshot of the faculty development programs that were the most effective,” Ciabocchi explains.

Working with Students
In a Best-in-Track session titled “Virtual Compass: Orienting Students with Blended Support,” presenters Juhong Liu and Carolyn Schubert from James Madison University will provide guidance for preparing adult learners, who may be unfamiliar with how to learn in an online modality, the necessary skills to succeed in a blended course. Their presentation will show how to offer a one-day orientation that does not cognitively overload students while at the same time provides them with the logical steps they need to take prior to attending a blended course. Their presentation also focuses on how to manage the internal human resources for offering this kind of student orientation through the effective utilization of a subject matter librarian, instructional designer and IT training professional.

The World of MOOCs
In addition, the conference offers several sessions that cover the world of MOOCs, and much more. Karen Vignare, from UMUC, along with Shari Smith from Rice University, Tanya Joosten from the University of Wisconsin, and Amy Collier from Stanford University, will present “Using MOOCs for Blended Learning.” According to Vignare, this session will show institutions how to integrate MOOCs into for-credit blended course offerings. “We are saying that you can take MOOCs and make them part of a strategy that integrates them into a plan that will help your current students.”

Taking Advantage of Online and Face-to-Face Instruction
The entire conference has a keen focus on helping institutions adopt and implement blended learning, adds Graham. “There are a lot of institutions across the country interested in moving into this space. They see blended learning as a way to not give up on their face-to-face interactions with students and not give up on their online interactions with students. They have this in-between option to take advantage of the strengths of both. “