Teaching and Learning Strategies


A Pedagogical and Technical Skill Set for Transitioning to the Online Hybrid Venue

Mary Anne Schultz PhD MBA MSN RN

Introduction and Statement of the Problem Numerous sources report that convincing faculty of the benefits of online instruction is challenging. Even as a potential solution to administrative imperatives or even with partial voluntary efforts to deconstruct a curriculum or a course, resistance can still outweigh good intentions and curiosity. Despite several semesters of course reconfigurations based on student concerns about redundant content, student engagement and interactivity in a core course in the nursing major remained lackluster. The innovation discussed speaks to the faculty skill set of instructional methods and technological competencies minimally required for such a successful transition.

Description of Innovation A traditional face-to-face (F2F) junior-level course (Human Development) was changed to a 50% online-hybrid venue for both sections of the Spring, 2007 semester in a public university’s Department of Nursing. During the planning phase for the course, it was decided to devote seat time to student-training and that the two involved faculty would collaborate on the alternating (every other week) F2F and virtual content as well as venues. Strategic use of both Discussion Board and Announcements features of the BlackBoard instructional platform, based on Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Practices as well as the university’s “Ideas for Enhancing Interactivity with Discussion Board” constituted the key pedagogical and technical levers.

Change Brought About by Innovation The main findings were: both student-faculty interactivity and student-student interactivity improved considerably. Other post-only outcomes include: a near-100% weekly participation rate; a typical (for that course over time) grade distribution of largely As, Bs and Cs; formation of efficient and effective student learning teams; purposive early departure of a small student group for a comparable online community college course; relatively small opportunity costs for faculty.

Significance If faculty are to transition from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side” in traditional settings, they might begin with the most basic and important of the Seven Principles--rapid individualized feedback. Further, tactical use of Announcements and Discussion Board features, as reported here, provide a logical starting point for pedagogical and technical training.

Recommendations: Faculty should consider a) transition to various other forms of hybrid (75-100%) online venues, b) use of enhanced virtual tools such as chat, talking heads, and fourth-space encounter and c) conduction of a full-scale program evaluation research project using each grade element as a variable.