In response to a request by the provost for a simple playbook for faculty to effectively design courses blending in-person and online teaching, the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation (OTEI) created the Instructional Playbook for Blended Learning.

The playbook was constructed to include stand-alone appendices for ease of use and to offer insights into the major steps of decisions made by faculty as they effectively redesign courses to meet the academic needs of their students in blended in-person and online teaching modalities.

Karen Bunch Franklin, OTEI’s digital learning specialist, was a key creator in developing the models and understanding what they meant for faculty, incorporating visual elements in the blended learning presentations and documents. “Visual elements connect key pieces together,” she said. “I think it makes a good connection between what you’re trying to explain and how it feels and looks. Visuals grab your attention, and present an image in your head while you’re reading about it.”

For faculty teaching in fall 2020, implementing the blended learning model involves extensive consideration about how best to convey the messages in their courses. In June, faculty chose between several of the blended and online models developed by a University committee led by John Griffin, associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies. After, OTEI developed visualizations of the models.

OTEI, housed in the Watt Family Innovation Center and directed by Taimi Olsen, created the Instructional Playbook for Blended Learning with assistance from Brad Putman, associate dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; Matt Briggs, director of Clemson Online; and faculty across campus. The playbook drew from grant work by the University of Central Florida, and, like UCF, Clemson added a Creative Commons license to the playbook and the blended learning models so they can be shared with other schools.

Syracuse University, Washburn University, Indiana Tech and Washington University in St. Louis are just a few of the higher education institutions drawn to Clemson’s newly developed models.

The learning model best for an instructor is largely dependent on the instructor’s approach to teaching in their disciplines. If an instructor is best at face-to-face lectures, they might prefer the simulcast model. Other instructors might employ a flipped model if they prefer to keep things more student-oriented and hands-on.

“With so much variation in the disciplines offered at Clemson, we are seeing faculty thinking very creatively this summer as they work through new course designs. It is inspirational. They have developed very creative solutions,” said Olsen.

One of the many benefits of the adoption of a blended learning model is that it provides new ways to employ Universal Design for Learning.

Michelle Rogers, OTEI’s postdoctoral teaching consultant, described it as “a framework for learning that provides accommodations for disabilities” whether physical or neurological. Universal Design for Learning has been shown to benefit all students by giving them options for ways to learn.

Outreach to Instructors

OTEI is partnering with several units to present webinars through the coming weeks, helping introduce instructors to the blended learning model. New faculty and graduate teaching assistant conferences begin Aug. 14.

Teaching consultant Leslie Lewis and graduate research assistant Shannon Stefl, who co-wrote one of the appendices for the playbook, are partnering with Clemson Online to host a teaching conference for all incoming faculty, postdoctoral and graduate student instructors.

“We will help new folks build community with their peers, learn about innovative ways to engage students in the blended or virtual environment and talk about teaching at Clemson,” Stefl stated.

Stefl and other OTEI staff are partnering with Grad360, the professional program of the Graduate School, to lead a series of online workshops focused on inclusive teaching strategies, student engagement and reflective teaching practices instructors can use in face-to-face and virtual learning environments throughout the Fall semester.