Blended Learning Symposium: Using Incentives and Empowerment to Drive Continuous Improvement in Blended Course Design

Concurrent Session 4

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Brief Abstract

Educational administrators seeking to drive continuous improvement of blended course offerings often face the challenge of framing efforts in terms of incentivizing, empowering, or requiring.  This session will discuss leadership challenges from the perspective of a dean/director when considering different approaches to launching or improving a blended program.

This onsite and live-streamed session is available only to participants registered for the Blended Learning Symposium


Dr. Matthew Vick is the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education and a professor of science education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The School partners with the academic colleges to design, implement, and market online programs for credit and non-credit audiences. He has directed/co-directed two grant projects at UW-W: a two-year Wisconsin Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title IIA Improving Teacher Quality Grant entitled 'Integrating Science and Literacy Learning with English Proficient and English Language Learners'; and a one-year UW System Outreach grant entitled 'Collaboratively Implementing the Vision of the Next Generation Science Standards in the Mukwonago Area School District with Pre-service and In-service Teachers'. He has published research articles and a book chapter in science education as well as practitioner-based articles. He has presented at the National Science Teachers Association, the Association for Science Teacher Education, the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, and the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers.

Extended Abstract

This session will begin with a presentation of the frameworks used by the speaker as a Dean to drive continuous improvement of blended learning courses and programs in higher education.  The session will then shift to table discussions around approaches and how they connect to the experiences of other session attendees.


  • 5 minutes    Speaker’s Context 
  • 10 minutes    Embracing and Empowering Faculty Enthusiasm for new delivery blended models 
  • 10 minutes    Thoughtfully Designing Incentives for Blended Program (Re)Design
  • 10 minutes    Engage Instructors to Design Programs rather than just Courses
  • 10 minutes    Roundtable Discussion on Similarities/Differences in Experiences of Participants

Session Goals:

Participants will

  1. Compare and contrast various incentives for blended learning improvement

  2. Explain approaches to building instructor-leader capacity in programs

  3. Analyze approaches to empower instructors to collaborate in designing a cohesive program.

The speaker will share the context of a regional comprehensive university with a sizable online presence.  He is a dean in a school of graduate students and continuing education.  Several graduate programs are seeking to leverage online/blended learning to extend the reach of their programs to increase the number of licensed school social workers, counselors, and psychologists.  The administrative challenge is balancing how to empower the faculty leaders in these programs as they design these blended options while also attempting to steer them toward quality instructional design practices that can be perceived as externally imposed requirements.

Incentives have been used on this campus when courses are being converted to fully online offerings because funding has traditionally been derived from fees assessed on fully online courses.  Because these human services areas are planning for blended or HyFlex models, they will not be charging these additional fees, thus the dean needs to decide whether to provide financial incentives from other sources of revenue.  Providing stipends improves faculty morale and it also provides an opportunity for a discussion on “deliverables” related to course quality goals.  This is balanced by equity concerns from colleague deans because continuous improvement of courses is a regular expectation of faculty as a part of overall salary and job duties.

Other challenges that programs face as they explore blended models of delivery is how to design a cohesive program and not just a sequence of independently designed blended courses.  Faculty can often be used to the freedom of independently designing their course.  Academic leaders have an important role to play to either inspire or possibly require collaboration between faculty and instructors to design a cohesive blended program.

This session will include many built in discussions amongst participants to evaluate the experiences shared and to connect the themes with their own experiences in launching or improving blended programs.