Presenter: Ike Shibley; Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Shibley (and Penn State) uses class guides in his blended courses to add a level of additional organization to how each of the classes is run.
A class guide is a simple document that describes how the content in a blended course is organized. Students are expected to click through the class guides before they start class. Dr. Shibley showed class guides in a PowerPoint/PDF slide format and in a web-based format. They typically fall into three basic types:
All of the types of class guides have several features in common. They all contain learning goals for the content and content is divided into activities that create opportunities for students to learn before, during, and after class.
When creating learning goals, it is important to use active verbs. This stresses what students will be doing while learning, instead of providing a vague general statement of what is to be learned. For instance, a learning goal for an introductory physics course might be: “Calculate [note active verb] work done by frictional forces”. Learning goals should also help you assess the learning that takes place. The more specific the language, the more effective the goal.
Content should be divided up so that students have opportunities to learn before class begins, while in class, and after class ends. Before class starts, you can use on-line resources to engage students in lower-level learning and prepare them for the classroom discussion. If you choose to grade the before-class activities, use low-stakes grading. Once class starts, you can use more traditional face-to-face and collaborative learning activities to provide further learning opportunities. After class ends, it is possible to continue the learning process through additional online and collaborative resources, with assessment vehicles (quizzes and tests).
When assessing student learning, it is (as always), up to you how to allocate points. Dr. Shibley recommends using low-stakes assessments for before-class activities, high-stakes grading for in-class activities, and mid-stakes grading for after class. But also remember that not everything needs to be graded (as long as students feel that they are being fairly assessed on their performance).
Dr. Shibley’s key factors to keep in mind are as follows:
Anyone interested in seeing for themselves what Dr. Shibley and Penn State have accomplished with class guides is invited to contact Dr. Shibley. He said he could give access to people as a “friend of Penn State” account or something so that interested people could see their class guides.