A couple of days ago, it was announced that CEP 917 won the AT&T award for best blended course. A few months ago, I (among others) was approached by the course instructors (Punya and Danah) and asked to reflect (in writing) on my experiences in the class. Here is what I wrote…
“The best way to sum up my experience as being a face-to-face learner in CEP 917 is a quote that resonated throughout the virtual and actual walls of our hybrid classroom:
“Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”.
The course was about design and in fact, Punya and Danah blurred the boundary between the class content and how the course was set up and showed us an exemplar of design in action. Not only did Punya and Danah devise a course that narrowed the gap between the face-to-face and online learners, throughout the semester they worked at fine tuning the course to improve the learning experience for all the learners.
The combination of sitting in Room 452 in Erickson and using GoToMeeting created a self-contained hybrid learning environment that allowed for real time interaction between the face-to-face and online students. As a face-to-face student, I could see, hear, and easily communicate with the online students.
Punya and Danah separated the class into smaller groups comprised of two face-to-face and two online students. While they gave us a common platform to communicate on, a group etherpad, they also allowed us to choose any other mode of communication. This freedom to experiment with the different technologies, allowed me to appreciate the subtle nuances between them. We toyed with a Google hangout and with Skype. However, we felt that the etherpad was a better platform for us since we each individually were reflective thinkers and preferred to write down our thoughts. On another note, we did enjoy using a Google hangout while brainstorming ideas for one of our class projects.
During the weeks we did not meet as a class, Punya and Danah still kept the sense of community alive and the lines of communication open by setting up discussion forums around the readings. In one way, this helped me get to know my fellow online colleagues better. We exchanged lengthy words on our online discussion forums that not only revolved around class readings but also about how the readings related to our personal and professional lives.
CEP 917 proverbially tore down the wall that previously separated online and face-to-face students. We were all part of one learning community: The hybrid learning community.”
Congrats to all!