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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Adventures with a hybrid class, Part II

This is the second of a series of three guest posts from Mary McGlasson of Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Part I discussed her decision to create a set of videos for use with a hybrid principles course.

PART II: How to keep the students accountable to watch (and process) the video content?
In that last entry, I said, “I needed to be sure that my students worked through the content on their own, or the face-to-face portion would be a total loss.“ But I didn’t really mention how I keep them on task, did I? Students in my classes are kept accountable because they have to answer a set of practice questions on each of the videos they've been assigned for homework. They are assigned “Video Homework” each week, where they need to (1) watch each assigned video, and (2) complete an assigned set of questions about that video’s content by the assigned due date.

These days, Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Canvas, Moodle, etc.) make it easy for the instructor to embed a video and include an assessment, so all of the Video Homework assignments for my class are on the class website, with set deadlines, and the results feed into my gradebook. No single assignment is worth very much in terms of points, but taken as a whole, doing these assignments matters to the student’s grade:
  • Each assignment is worth only 1 point (0.2% of the semester grade), but in total they account for 5% of the student's grade. WHY? This way if a student has an occasional slip-up, they haven’t sabotaged their entire grade.
  • Students get three attempts on each practice set, and must successfully complete each practice set (i.e., get a 90% or higher) to get the point for that assignment. WHY? I want students to be able to go back and try again, learning from mistakes, but I don’t want them to randomly guess until they get the answers; nor do I want them to just click through the assignment for the sake of getting it done.
  • In the hybrid class, because the work is their classwork for the week in between meeting times, failure to complete the homework on time not only costs the point(s) for the assignment(s); it also counts as an absence, so the student loses attendance points. WHY? Just an extra incentive – I am trying to reinforce the message that this work MUST be completed.
Our District recently adopted Canvas as the Learning Management System, which has a couple of nice additional features I've started using:
  • Students must complete the assignments in a specified order (they cannot skip ahead to new material without completing the previous material)
  • I am able to specify that a student cannot move on unless he/she gets a specific score on a practice set — in my class, 70%. So if a student has gone through three attempts on a 10-question practice set and not achieved at least a 70, they would need to contact me to add another attempt to get that score so that they can move on to the new material. This serves not only as a deterrent for just randomly guessing on the assignments, but also lets me know when students are struggling.  [NOTE from Jenn: It is also possible to set up these sort of rules in Blackboard using ‘adaptive release’ rules]

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