Key to successful delivery of an online course (or as in our case, a blended model of online and traditional), along with achievement of the learning objectives, is the learner experience. I’ll never forget the feelings of trepidation I had on our first day with our inaugural class, piloting this new model of curriculum delivery with our bacteriology course.
Our lesson plan requires that the students prepare for class by studying the online lecture material as homework, prior to the next day’s laboratory section. Our students were excited about starting our program and eager to learn, yet some were hesitant. I remember one student stating that they “might not be so sure about this new format.” After all, we hadn’t tried it before, and to be frank, it was scary. I remember thinking to myself, “What are we going to do if they do not study the online content? What if they do not prepare for class? What if they dislike this format? What will we do if they flunk their first exam?
Fortunately that was not the case, and our student’s performance in our program has been and continues to be highly successful.
Alex, a student in our current class put it this way:
“It is worth noting that this is not your typical college course. The program here really emphasizes the “reverse classroom” technique. For those unfamiliar, this term means that one will read about the lesson the night before and come to class the next day and perform a laboratory assignment based on that reading.
I came into the program experiencing nothing like this before, so I wasn’t sure how this learning strategy would work for me. After completing our didactic schedule, many of my peers would agree with me that this learning technique is fantastic and is very beneficial to the overall learning experience.
However, to maximize this benefit, time management is vital. Simply reading the lesson at the last minute does not cut it. Whether it helps you to take notes as you go, doing a re-read, or fill out a study guide, this style of learning is a classic example of getting out what you put into it.”
I loved hearing our student reflect that “you get out of it what you put into it.” To me, that is the ultimate goal of education, to prepare our students to be able to think critically and self-direct their learning. In this regard, our inaugural class was a success.
-Susan M. Lehman, MA, MT(ASCP)SM graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983 with a BS in medical technology. She is program director for the Medical Laboratory Science Program and course director for Clinical Microbiology I and II; her areas of interest include distance education and education methodology.