Distance Learning

Newest Version of MOOC on Blended Learning Opens in February

The University of Central Florida (UCF) and Educause will partner in the fourth version of a massive open online course (MOOC) on blended learning.

The course titled "BlendKit2016: Becoming a Blended Learning Designer" will be available starting in late February. The university and the nonprofit will jointly offer the free course and Instructure will provide access to it via its Canvas online learning platform.

The course is intended to help educators as they create their own courses that include a combination of face-to-face and online learning experiences. BlendKit2016 will be facilitated by designers Rohan Jowallah and Baiyun Chen from the UCF Center for Distributed Learning.

"As a practice, online instruction is still in its infancy, relative to traditional classroom methods," said UCF Associate Vice President of Distributed Learning Tom Cavanagh. "Having two decades of experience in online learning puts our institution in a unique position to help our peers avoid the pitfalls we've experienced with it and fully realize their visions for novel modes in interaction."

The MOOC is the result of a Next Generation Learning Challenges grant that UCF received in 2011 to create free, open resources that would help educators develop their own blended-learning initiatives.

"The power of online professional development is that we can collaborate and educate in real time," said Julie Little, Educause vice president of teaching, learning and professional development.

While the course is free, a more rigorous option is available for a small cost that will lead to a certificate and a digital badge from Educause and UCF. Organizations that want to include multiple faculty members can receive custom coaching and, for the first time, continuing education units will be offered this year.

The five-week course will include:

  • Expert and peer assessment of design work;
  • Interactions with facilitators;
  • Blogging and social networking interaction;
  • Weekly webinars with guest presenters;
  • Document templates and "how to" guides;
  • Readings from scholarly works; and
  • Suggested group activities.

Registration is currently open for the course, which begins February 22.

About the Author

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