$1.8 Million for Blended
Learning in NJ College
A five-year grant from the United States Department of Education
is allowing New Jersey's largest community college to accelerate
its goal of infusing technology into the instructional process
while maximizing existing on-campus classroom space.
The $1.8 million grant that Camden County College received
from the federal Title III Strengthening Institutions Program
will fund the creation of 70 blended learning model (BLM) courses.
The BLM fuses in-person instruction with online instruction,
making each BLM course part traditional and part distance in
nature. These courses truly offer the best of both instructional
worlds. Because they operate partly in a physical classroom,
they provide the clarity and camaraderie that comes with face-to-face
interaction. Because they also operate partly in a cyber classroom,
they provide the convenience and flexibility of distance education.
Because they are split between these two delivery modes, the
number of hours that they require classrooms is reduced and
the number of hours that the classrooms are available for other
courses is increased.
The grant also will support the
curricula redesign and faculty development that is necessary
to incorporate these courses into the college's established
degree and certificate programs. Although BLM or ÒhybridÓ courses
are not new features in distance learning, the Camden County
College approach is unique in that the support mechanism
actually is being built into the endeavor itself. Faculty
members who participate in the project each semester will
be required to invest a minimum of 45 hours in a series of
professional development activities. With so much of the
traditional lecture-based material being disseminated to
students electronically, the dynamic of the remaining classroom
contact time will change significantly.
As a result, Camden County College's professional development
program will include workshops on topics that deal directly
with instruction. These include the impact that different student
learning styles have on teaching, the importance of connecting
assessment to stated student learning outcomes and the implementation
of strategies that transform classrooms into student-centered
venues. Other faculty activities will include one-on-one sessions
in which faculty familiarize themselves with the college's
online platform, WebStudy, and the many unique instructional
features that WebStudy provides.
Furthermore, the grant will fund initiatives to better orient
students to the technology used in BLM courses as well as to
better monitor student progress as they engage the technology
on a regular basis. The goal is to provide the most intellectually
rewarding and successful experience possible to an already
eager group of students. After all, some students like that
distance learning is easy to incorporate into their busy schedules
but really miss the interaction of the traditional classroom.
The blended learning model will allow Camden County College
to provide them with both simultaneously.
As the BLM becomes integrated into the fabric of college offerings,
there will be careful monitoring of exactly how much classroom
space is being saved. Because of Camden County College's unique
approach to teaching through the BLM, the value of this savings
will be magnified by the fact this savings will have been achieved
without sacrificing the quality of the educational experience.#
For more information about Camden County College's development
of blended learning model courses, contact Dr. Sebastian Vasta