Blended Learning

Columbia Launches Hybrid Learning Initiative

Columbia University has launched an initiative to turn more of its traditional lecture courses into hybrid learning experiences that would incorporate the use of audiovisual materials, social media, flipped classrooms and real-time feedback from students.

The Provost's Faculty Advisory Committee on Online Learning has asked faculty members to submit their proposals to either turn existing courses into hybrid online courses or create new courses. A faculty committee will review the proposals and make recommendations to Provost John Coatsworth, who will announce November 24 which proposals the university will pursue. A second round of proposals will be accepted in the spring.
Columbia Associate Professor Brent Stockwell teaches his biochemistry course using the flipped classroom concept.

The proposals that are accepted will receive funding of between $5,000 and $20,000 each and additional support and resources from the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning.

According to the formal request for proposals, "A key goal of this fund is to measure the effectiveness of these designs, delivery methods and learning strategies, and to improve instructional delivery and learning outcomes."

The courses, expected to be taught during the 2015-16 academic year, will not be Columbia's first experiments with hybrid learning.

Two years ago, Associate Professor Brent Stockwell turned his 180-student biochemistry class into a flipped classroom with video presentations and lectures by him that students could watch the night before with class time devoted to work on case studies and exercises.

"Sitting in one of these 180-student classrooms is a very passive situation," said Maurice Matiz, executive director of the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. "We've found that students aren't really learning very much."

And in her 250-student Body, Health and Disease class, Professor Rachel Gordon used short video lectures students could view before class, reserving class time for discussions of case studies with an audience response system.

"On many levels it was more satisfying than lecturing, where you don't really know if the students are 'getting it,'" Gordon said.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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