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Blended Learning Examples

Making seminars more effective

Making seminars more effective

Max had several challenges with his large second year History course, notably how to:
  • improve teaching and learning on a large course with reduced contact hours
  • make seminars more effective
  • support his Graduate Teaching Assistants in seminar delivery
  • personalise the student experience
To support students engaging with lecture material and prepare them to participate in seminars, Max used Blackboard to provide an introduction to each seminar which was posted in Blackboard. This included
  • Overview of the topic
  • The learning outcomes of the seminar
  • Preparatory activities for students
  • Key and additional resources
One of the preparatory activities is a seminar worksheet in Word which students download. The worksheet directs the students' reading as part of the preparatory activities, helps them focus on the most important themes and supports them develop and enhance their critical reading skills. They complete the worksheet and bring it with them to the seminar.

Max said that Blackboard was easy to use and made course materials easily accessible. It allowed improved access to secondary sources and allowed him to harness the richness of a variety of online resources. By providing students with a structure for seminar preparation Max also supported GTAs, providing them with a framework for delivering seminar support.

Student feedback "I think it gives you extra confidence because you ... don't come away from an article thinking 'I don't know what that was about' and you know what you're looking for so it's easier to find ... because all the resources were so available, I just definitely read everything properly."

In the Unit Evaluation Questionnaire students were asked whether 'The material available on-line significantly enhanced my learning'. The Mean score was of 1.81 which is the highest score of 140 AHC UG course units with over 30 students in 2007-08.

Benefits:

  • Developing students' capacities to be active, critical and independent learners
  • Raising interest, attracting students' attention on a topic
  • Encouraging continuous learning and progression
  • Encouraging original writing and responsible use of source material
  • Consolidating students' understanding of materials, encouraging better performance and independent study
  • Re-usability: Exercises and Worksheets can be re-used next year
  • Requires low level of technical expertise