Right-mixing Online And Blended Assessment and Engagement Activities

Workshop Session 1

Brief Abstract

Participants in this workshop will receive guided hands-on time to explore assessment and engagement tools, learn about the right-mixing framework (http://bit.ly/Right-Mixing), and collect feedback from the presenter and peers to make course design decisions about how to appropriately select the right mix for optimal engagement and assessment.


Dr. Tawnya Means is Assistant Dean and Director of the Teaching and Learning Center for the College of Business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, providing comprehensive learning support for students and faculty development programs and resources for instructional innovation and adoption of pedagogical best practices. With nearly 20 years of experience in higher education, course design, and educational consulting, Tawnya also teaches courses in strategy, technology, and leadership in remote teams. Dr. Means received her B.S. in Education, M.S. in Educational Technology, and Ph.D. in Information Science and Learning Technologies with an emphasis on learning systems design, all from the University of Missouri. She completed the AACSB Post-doctoral bridge program in Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida. Her research interests are in online and blended learning, active learning, learning space design, technology for teaching, access to digital learning resources, and faculty preparation to teach. She has long been a leader in campus initiatives and committees and actively presents at conferences and other institutions and organizations on technology-enhanced learning.

Extended Abstract

Session Description:

Online and blended teaching can enhance and "right-size" education, creating a personalized and engaging experience for learning. In-person delivery is familiar and steeped in tradition, online delivery breaks down space and time constraints, and blended delivery mixes in-person and technology-enhanced learning environments to bring together the best of each, hopefully achieving the benefits of putting the right activity in the right space at the right time. However, often questions remain, ‘what should happen in person, and what should happen online?,’ and ‘how can the online and in-person experiences support each other to best teach students?,’ and ‘what is the right mix?’.

Online and blended learning offers exciting opportunities for assessment and engagement, to increase access to knowledge and expertise, and to provide greater flexibility for students, instructors, and institutions. New and emerging technological advances can be leveraged to increase student satisfaction, success, and engagement, as well as encourage student interaction with content, instructors, and peers. Even with all the challenges associated with change, the real potential for technology’s transformative effect on higher education is to harness the disruptive power of technology to impact how we teach students.

Relying simply on technology is not sufficient to change teaching. The philosopher Martin Heidegger noted that “Teaching is even more difficult than learning... because what teaching calls for is this; to let learn.” (1968, p. 15, as quoted by Sturm, 2001). In order to let learning happen, teachers must create a learning environment that facilitates the delivery of content, while balancing student interaction with content, instructor, and peers. The challenge is to determine what to teach when and where, with the right activity in the right space at the right time.

Following a brief overview of engagement and presence literature, the presenter will share teaching experiences for assessment and engagement in online and blended teaching with graduate and undergraduate students. Through examples shared from using tools to support synchronous and asynchronous discussions, simulations, and application-based projects, the presenter will guide participants through hands-on exploration of online and blended learning and promote a decision-making framework to decide what to do in-person, what to use technology to support, what happens best synchronously, in-person, or asynchronously, and what aspects of the learning experience can be flexible, with the intent to guide the decisions to right-mix the learning experiences for students, promote engagement and effective assessment strategies, and let learning happen.

Session Outcomes

  • Relate presence and engagement literature to the need for increasing time on task and student effort to impact learning

  • Collect tools, technologies, and practices to promote effective assessment strategies and increase student engagement and interaction

  • Balance the mix of online and in-person learning and assessment activities

Participant Engagement Strategies

Participants should bring their laptop and smartphone and will engage through audience polling built into presentation slides, discussion pairs, guided hands-on exploration of technologies, and collaborative construction of a shared document (http://bit.ly/Right-Mixing) used to guide the decision-making process for what learning activities fit best in which type of environment, using which technologies, at what time. Following demonstrations of tools and techniques, attendees will be invited to use the technologies and discuss the fit with their teaching needs.