Pushing for Definitions along the Fuzzy Boundaries of Hybridity
Last week in our Brittain Fellow research seminar on Hybrid Pedagogy, we discussed definition and documentation. What would an Encyclopedia of Hybrid Pedagogy look like? What kinds of entries would be necessary? These were the questions that prompted our discussion.
We brainstormed a list of possible entries for an Encyclopedia of Hybrid Pedagogy including types of tools one might employ; the differentiation between hybrid classrooms, lessons, and pedagogies; considerations of assessment; and suggestions that might help answer that all important question: what do I do in the case of a tech failure with my hybrid project?
From here, we acknowledged that one important aspect of definition and documentation is research (this should be unsurprising in a research methods seminar!). We responded to Davida Charney’s oft-cited and useful “Empiricism Is Not a Four-Letter Word (CCC 1996). She notes that an “overreliance of qualitative studies and repeated disparagement of objective methods is creating a serious imbalance” in research, an imbalance that continues. That said, we considered that a researcher’s choice of methodology—to use entirely qualitative data, entirely quantitative data, or a mix methodology with both quantitative and qualitative data—depends on the research question(s), the research situation and population, and the epistemology and intellectual preferences of the researcher.
Three grounding components of research are part of this week’s TECHStyle post (part of the virtual replacement for our FTF meeting): (1) Provide the citation and annotation for an article about hybrid pedagogy. Our imaginary encyclopedia needs to contain scholarly resources for others who wish to research the same topics. (2) Complete your IRM certification and comment on the professional/ethical responsibilities entailed in conducting IRB-approved research. (3) Tell a story from the “field”—which may be your own classroom. Just as important as theoretical discussions about the philosophies behind hybrid pedagogy are the experiences (good and bad) of those of us integrating hybrid practices in various ways. So, this week’s TECHStyle post asks readers to comment with their research, complete and comment on IRB certification, and tell their stories, in order to aid our definitional project in ways that are both quantitative and qualitative.
To help us in this endeavor, Robin has created a google doc for our annotated bibliographies. We look forward to reading your comments to this hybrid techstyle post (composed by Rachel and Rebecca) for next week’s FtF meeting.
B. White, “Alternative Worlds as Teaching and Learning Environments.” *Hybrid Learning.* Ed. Philip Tsang, Simon K. S. Cheung, Victor S. K. Lee, Ronghuai Huang. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2010. 1-8.
White argues for the value of “bottom up” learning situations–e.g., those defined as communal, collaborative, and active rather than isolated or passive–through the optic of “alternate worlds.” In general terms, White defines alternate worlds as rich environments that are both computer-based and immersive in nature. These environments may take the form of programs such as Second Life, Facebook, and other social media modules, as well as videoconferencing platforms that superimpose the virtual upon the real. In particular terms, however, White wishes to argue for the value of these “worlds” as spaces that students can inhabit formally. That is, they solicit specific forms of interaction and identification through the manipulation of objects in space. Applications might include the performance of a play, the presentation of a speech, or the completion of a scientific experiment. Of particular use, she says, are opportunities to collaborate in locations that, though self-contained, might energize and empower students in the classroom. “‘Alternative world’ technologies,” White concludes, “are mature enough to attract greater attention by educational technologists” (7).
B. White, “Alternative Worlds as Teaching and Learning Enviornments”
White argues for the value of “bottom up” learning situations–e.g., those defined as communal, collaborative, and active rather than isolated or passive–through the optic of “alternate worlds.” In general terms, White defines alternate worlds as rich environments that are both computer-based and immersive in nature. These environments may take the form of programs such as Second Life, Facebook, and other social media modules, as well as videoconferencing platforms that superimpose the virtual upon the real. In particular terms, however, White wishes to argue for the value of these “worlds” as spaces that students can inhabit. That is, they solicit specific forms of interaction and identification through the manipulation of objects in virtual space. Applications might include the performance of a play, the presentation of a speech, or the completion of a scientific experiment. Of particular use, she says, are opportunities to collaborate in locations that, though self-contained, might energize and empower students in the classroom. “‘Alternative world’ technologies,” White concludes, “are mature enough to attract greater attention by educational technologists” (7).
McAndrews, Gina M., Scott Chadwick, & Russell E. Mullen. (2005). Testing the Efficacy of Reverse Learning as a Teaching and Learning Method Using an Interactive Multimedia Computer Program. NACTA Journal. 35-39. [NB: Largely quoted from the article’s abstract and conclusion.]
Various kinds of Web-based instruction and computer-based tutorial systems have been used to help students learn in conventional as well as in hybrid classrooms (Seiler, et al., 2002). “A Computer Interactive Multimedia Program for Learning Enhancement (CIMPLE) program was developed to enhance learning in an introductory agronomy course at Iowa State University. CIMPLE includes learner objectives, digitized tutorial video, key concepts, practice learning exercises, and self-diagnostic quizzes” (p. 35). My question is what CIMLE-like strategies can we use to help our students in hybrid environments.
In the CIMPLE study, “several students started with the learning assessment programs, to test their [own] initial level of understanding of material before studying, a process coined ‘reverse learning.’ To assess the concept of reverse learning, students were divided into one of three learning strategies: (1) students used the textbook, did not use CIMPLE and then took graded quizzes; (2) students used CIMPLE and the textbook and then took the graded quizzes; and (3) students first did the nongraded self-assessments on CIMPLE, then used CIMPLE and the text, and then took the graded quizzes (reverse learning). There was no significant grade difference across the three learning strategies” (p. 35). The researchers concluded that students’ grades were not influenced by their learning style regardless of their learning strategy. In fact, students with “different learning styles within a learning strategy had similar grade performance. [Results] show that students using that strategy learn, on average, as well students using more traditional strategies” (p. 35). McAndrews, Chadwick, and Mullen note that their finding agrees with other research showing that “students in a hypermedia (computer-aided) learning environment learn as well as in traditional environments (Howard et al., 2004; Yildirim et al., 2001)….Previous research with the CIMPLE program shows that high levels of motivation to use the self-assessment, video tutorial, and applied environmental / ethical issues portions of the program is significantly, positively correlated to high grades in the course” (McAndrews et al., 2005).
These results suggest that hybrid courses—in which “students need complex learning skills to manage learning environments” (Song, 2002)—may benefit from “including computer-aided environments, especially environments in which students are in control of the learning” (p 38).
We mentioned about possible places for publication….
Check out the searchable DIrectory of Open Access and Hybrid Journals (DOAJ) for a list of more than 7,000 journals, though perhaps only a few hundred are relevant to our purposes .
Comas-Quinn, Anna. “Learning To Teach Online Or Learning To Become An Online Teacher: An Exploration Of Teachers’ Experiences In A Blended Learning Course.” Recall 23.3 (2011): 218-232. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.
While this is an article about (foreign) language learning, there’s enough interesting material to make it worth including in our bibliography. The article covers the transition teachers go through when moving from a face to face (ftf) course to an online or blended course. The article is based on surveys with a group of Spanish teachers who teach in England, and Comas-Quinn refers to her work as a “qualitative study” that evaluates teachers experiences of blended learning instruction.
Comas-Quinn asked questions regarding ftf sessions, synchronous online lessons, asynchronous online activities, forums, and personal blogs. All of these were possible elements of the online program available to the teachers in the study, although not all teachers incorporated all of these options. In general, the conclusions were that there must be a connection between tools and assessment for both the instructors and the students to find them useful. Often, instructors struggled with using tools such as forums and blogs that were not linked to assessment and therefore perceived as both optional and not terribly useful (226).
In terms of training, many of the options for these instructors were both not required and unpaid. This leads to lower motivation to complete the optional elements of the training, as well as a certain amount of frustration on the part of busy instructors (227). While Comas-Quinn suggests the powers of mentorship in teaching the instructors, for me the question that always arise are these: do we have enough faculty with these skills to effectively mentor groups of incoming or newly blended instructors? Will mentor faculty be compensated in some way for providing that mentorship? (And will this be our job after we leave Tech???)
Two final comments. One telling response from a surveyed teacher was that “she wanted more time in face-to-face contact and less in the use of technology,’ her remark focused on ‘the use of technology’ rather than the ‘teaching through technology'” (228). Comas-Quinn has an excellent point here in conceptualizing technology not as something that one is merely forced to use but instead can integrate as an important part of an overall pedagogy. But, as I mentioned earlier, the pedagogical connections often must be clearly tied to assessment for both students and instructors to find it worthwhile.
Scholz, R. Trebor (ed). Learning Through Digital Media: Experiments in Technology and Pedagogy. The New School, 2011.
As the “About” section on Learning Through Digital Media states, “[t]his publication is the product of a collaboration that started in the fall of 2010 when a total of eighty New School faculty, librarians, students, and staff came together to think about teaching and learning with digital media.” The collection includes thirty-three essays that address a wide range of questions, experiences, and tools that shape digital media and learning. Some of the essays discuss platforms and methods that seem familiar to anyone who has spent some time thinking about hybrid pedagogy (such as blogging), but also include discussions of e.g. tumblr and delicious, two platforms that aren’t quite a prominent yet. Since Learning Through Digital Media is an online collection, a number of essays are multimodal and thus include images or videos.
In the introduction to the volume, editor R. Trebor Scholz emphasizes that many of the authors who contributed to the volume embrace the idea of “participatory learning,” which is based on the question of “how both ready-at-hand proprietary platforms and open-source tools can be used to create situations in which all learners actively engage each other and the teacher to become more proficient, think in more complex ways, gain better judgment, become more principled and curious, and lead distinctive and productive lives.” In other words, participatory learning emphasizes collaboration and reaches beyond the confines of the classroom (in this way, participatory learning is modeled on participatory culture; if you would like to read more about participatory culture, I once again recommend Henry Jenkins et al., “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” at http://newmedialiteracies.org/files/working/NMLWhitePaper.pdf ).
Scholz also cautions that hybrid pedagogy is not simply about the incorporation of digital tools, but rather about a meaningful inclusion of these tools that enables students to use, analyze, build on, and adapt current and future digital tools. The introduction ends with the important reminder that teaching with digital media comes with its own learning process–we as teachers need to learn how learning with digital media works, which will necessarily include frustration and failure along the way.
In addition to the the thirty-three essays, Learning Through Digital Media also includes a “learning toolkit”. While this section mostly consists of links to various other websites, it is still a good starting point for researching which tools and platform one might use in a hybrid classroom.
Another good book about the incorporation of digital media into learning is Ito, Mizuko, Sonja Baumer, Matteo Bittanti, Danah Boyd, Rachel Cody, Becky Herr-Stephenson et al. Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press. 2009.
Anthony G. Picciano, “Blended Learning: Implications for Growth and Access,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 10, no. 3 (2006).
A somewhat older article (2006), Picciano’s “Blended Learning: Implications for Growth and Access” aims to provide academic administrators with information about blended learning to help them make important decisions in higher education. The article presents two real-world scenarios in which blended learning seems to be a viable solution to problems in higher education: one in which a university experiences higher than expected enrollment and another in which students in an online setting wish to have face-to-face involvement with each other and their professor. Picciano points out that blended learning can allow universities to grow their enrollment by allowing students once hindered by geographical impediments and time conflicts greater access to post-secondary education. Citing other scholars, Picciano suggests that blended learning can improve retention rates without sacrificing educational quality. In sum, the article hopes to offer information on the business side of blended learning and to stimulate further research on the side of scholarship. The references section is particularly useful in naming articles that attest to the pedagogical strengths of blended learning.
Luke, Carmen. “Pedagogy, Connectivity, Multimodality, and Interdisciplinarity.” Reading Research Quarterly 38.3 (Jul. – Sep., 2003): 397-403.
In her compelling essay, “Pedagogy, Connectivity, Multimodality, and Interdisciplinarity,” Carmen Luke suggests that “the domination of pedagogy by mode of information may prove harder to displace than any particular political or sociocultural ideology” (397). The reasons for such obduracy are linked, according to the author, to the traditional conceptions of “mastery of and engagement with dominant modes of information, whether of spoken language and gesture, inscription and print, or visual image” (397).
Luke links pedagogical resistance to new modes of learning (i.e. contemporary and technologically based) to a parental-driven concern that children are inundated with mass media production and “the practices of new capitalism—its affliliated lifestyles, identities, and attitudes—that they have come to represent” (398). However, Luke’s thesis is that all nascent learning practices are in fact multimodal by nature and should thus be incorporated into (rather than excluded from) the contemporary classroom. Furthermore, Luke notes that it is ironically in the classroom—the idealized learning space—where issues of curricular structure and academic timetable often exercise the greatest constraint on the naturally multimodal development of the human individual.
Next, Luke highlights the work of certain educators who are attempting to incorporate more “collaborative, constructivist, and problem-based learning” models into their pedagogical approaches (398-399). One of the benefits, she contends, to such new(er) practices is that educators are pushed to re-conceptualize their classrooms in a fashion that once again “locates knowledge and learning, rather than technology, as the center of pedagogy” (399). In other words, by incorporating technology into the classroom, it reveals itself as a useful tool rather than an ideological construct that one is either ‘for’ or ‘against’.
Luke discusses “electronic transcripts” (I read this term to include the multiple media interfaces we’ve explored in our seminar—e.g. Twitter, wikis, blogs, etc.) and underlines the effective nature of such material for activities including “metacognitive self-reflection, poor support, collaboration and discussion, learning pathways, and meaning negotiation” (399). She insists that discussions of technology and multimodality need now press towards the newer frontiers of practical analysis (in other words, exactly the kind of “how do we measure the effectiveness of ‘x’ our classrooms” that we’ve been discussing during the past weeks).
Luke asks that researchers investigate the efficacy of the assumed/purported “equity promises” of these “alleged hierarchy-free zones of online communication” and that they be compared to the same issues in “face-to-face encounters” (399). She also encourages educators and researches to consider the relevance of such data to discussions of globalization. Likewise, she raises the issue of access to technology and the effects this may have on various demographics.
Luke discusses the changing nature of literacy itself, and she invites her readers to consider how the hypertext interface contributes to/shifts/redefines what it is to engage with a text in the first place (399-400). Her reference to the “shape-shifting” nature of youth and the relationship this demographical characteristic may have on corresponding technologies is intriguing, as is her query “whether ‘our’ generation’s largely print-based theories and 20th-century social science training, assumptions, and analytic lenses are sufficiently flexible and innovative to enable us to ‘read’ and ‘see’ beyond the conceptual horizons of normative models of text, language change, identity, learning, and so forth” (400).
The author’s contention (via other theorists) that multimodal learning is “relational” is key, I believe, to the idea of hybrid pedagogies, for it is only when we fully engage as hybrid educators—negotiating the divide between traditional pedagogical practices and contemporary ones—that we may begin to fruitfully answer the provocative questions raised herein.
Luke’s challenge is clear: “We may need something more. The texts of the new technologies have mutated into complex, hybrid semiotic systems that have made new demands on reading and writing, viewing, social exchange, and communication. These, in turn, require multimethodological and interdisciplinary analyses of the social and cultural, and the semiotic and linguistic. New media and complex connectivity generate new research question that require new analytic tools as well as innovative combinations of the old with the new” (401).
That certainly sounds hybrid to me!
Daniel Gutierrez, “A Comparative Study Between A Traditionally Taught Criminology Course And A Computer Hybrid Course: Does Technology in the Classroom Make A Difference?” Journal of College Teaching and Learning 1, no. 3 (2011): 59-64.
Joy L. Colwell, “Experiences With A Hybrid Class: Tips and Pitfalls,” College Teaching Methods & Styles Journal 2, no. 2 (Second Quarter): 9-12.
The data on the hybrid learning environment seems promising. As Daniel Gutierrez notes, research on hybrid learning remains both scant and diffuse across fields and institutions. These extant studies, however, are suggestive of the promise inherent in hybrid learning. They present favorable outcomes including slightly increased rates of student retention in online courses, increase in overall gpa, and improved student satisfaction. In order to test these hypothesis and compare student achievement, Gutierrez designed a study to test differentials in student performance in an introductory criminology class; one class would be taught in a hybrid environment and the other more traditionally. Gutierrez findings correlated with prior studies. Indeed, Gutierrez unequivocally states in his discussion of his findings: “Data indicate that students enrolled in the hybrid course outperformed students in the traditional course by substantial margins.” (65) This article indicates the clear need for further research to be done. Despite the scant yet promising data, moreover, one of the biggest issues in transitioning to a hybrid learning environment are conceptualizing the nuts and bolts of an uncodified practice. Joy L. Colwell gives some suggestions for course design including maintaining a regular schedule and designing flexible assignments which allow students to pursue their own interests. She also signals some pitfalls which include an increased faculty workload due to extra time spent on the course management system and electronic correspondence.
Barbara O’Byrne & Lisa A Heaton. (2008). “Toward a Pedagogy of Multimodal Hybrid Delivery.” In Joseph Fong, Reggie Kwan, & Fu Lee Wang (Eds). Hybrid Learning: A New Frontier. 2008 International Conference on Hybrid Learning. 141-150.
In “Towards a Pedagogy of Multimodal Hybrid Delivery”, Barbara O’Byrne and Lisa Heaton reported the results of a longitudinal study that assessed how hybrid delivery influences pedagogical practice. They twice surveyed instructors at the Graduate School of Education and Professional Development of Marshall University, once in 2001 and again in 2008. During this time, these instructors had had the option of using online/hybrid delivery formats in their courses. Based on the completed surveys, O’Byrne and Heaton found that over time instructors tended to shift to more extensive use of online/hybrid course delivery formats. Moreover, instructors reported that the use of said formats changed their teaching in a number of ways. For example, it caused them to plan and organize their courses differently and resulted in increased individual interaction with students. O’Byrne and Heaton ultimately conclude that the “relationship between instruction and multimodal, hybrid delivery is transformative in both directions” (142).
Gradel, Kathleen and Alden J. Edson. “Cooperative Learning: Smart Pedagogy and Tools for Online and Hybrid Courses.” Journal of Educational Technology Systems 39.2 (2010-11): 193-212.
This article explores the combination of technology with collaborative projects through an analysis first of online learning and then an introduction to cooperative learning pedagogy. Finally, the article combines the two concepts and demonstrates what assignments look like when professors use cooperative learning strategies in a hybrid environment. Since many of us utilize technology and group work in our courses, I thought this article would be relevant to our conversation.
The critique Gradel and Edson offer of current uses of technology in hybrid learning is that the professor often focuses on fostering discussion as the primary goal of online forums and blogs, which as many drawbacks. They propose carefully building hybrid assignments that assign students roles and require different forms of participation, thus fulfilling more course outcomes. For a reading reflection assignment, for example, they suggest assigning groups to different topics, and then each person within the group has a specific question to answer on a GoogleDoc. Then each student posts questions to another team member’s post, which the writer then uses to revise his/her post. Once all of the revisions have been made, the group posts the document to the class wiki and each person fills out an online survey on what he/she did and how he/she did it. Finally, the students review all of the posts and then ask another group a question and offer an answer to the question. (As you can tell, this becomes a very involved reflection assignment).
The examples of cooperative learning-focused hybrid assignments were minimal, but the article poses a valuable question: in what ways can we use technology to emphasize the various learning outcomes of our courses? How can we foster student engagement in different ways in hybrid environments?