Some blended/hybrid courses I found extremely interesting are the ones offered by Webster University in Missouri through their Walker Global Hybrid Courses program. These programs are unique in the sense they do not have formal in class time with the professor. The course involves eight weeks of material that is purely online and then after that there is a one week travel aspect of the course that gives the student the opportunity to observe and explore business practices of other nations. The different courses are meant to prepare students for life in the business world and the opportunity to go abroad and learning ideas from a different culture really helps to open up students’ eyes to the different practices around the world. This is extremely different from our hybrid course as nearly all of our interactions are in person with other students, the T.A. and/or the professor. We don’t have the opportunity to go to other nations and explore how the change in the information era has affected their way of life either. Our course did have some neat ideas though that helped us to learn in completely different ways.
I have never had a course that has encouraged, or rather needed the use of the computer and the internet to complete many of the required assignments. More often than not, my courses are discouraging the use of the internet as they want us to work on our own to come up with solutions to problems we are presented. With that being said, I feel the online portions of the course were significant and helped me look at and learn things from a new angle I otherwise would not have thought of. However, I did not feel they were significantly attached to what we were trying to accomplish in class; they seemed to drift a bit from what was being discussed in class. This idea could have been the purpose of these exercises though as to get us to think about the concept we were talking about in class in a completely different perspective/light. This gave us the opportunity to explore the idea on our own without having to use class time to accomplish the task. If it was made with that intent, I would say the online activities serve their purpose in a very successful manner. I felt though that I was more of an effective student in the physical world. Actually being with someone allowed you to express your ideas and have immediate responses from many different students right away. It was not like the blog where you often had to wait for a response, if you even got one at all. Having the physical contact with the other students really allowed me to have a nice discussion that I otherwise would not have been able to have online as we were not encouraged to be extremely active on the web, not to the point where a fluid discussion was occurring. If a portion of a course is going to be online, the instructor should/needs to encourage more participation amongst the students; they cannot just post their idea, make a comment and move on from the idea. There needs to be more discussion in the online world if the idea is going to pan out in the most successful possible manor.
The lecture aspect of the course is what I felt was lacking in the course the most. More often than not, I gained the most from the readings and the discussion sections. A majority of the information from lecture I found to be interesting but it was nothing that really helped me to learn in this course. All the substantive material I gained from this course was from the readings and my discussion section, where we were able to comment back and forth with each other about the different topics we were learning about. Once again though, I feel as if this was the intended purpose of the course. Too often big lectures are seen as not being efficient in the way they present information to students so in order to move around the problem a majority of the information being presented was done in a smaller atmosphere where it could be absorbed at a stronger rate. Overall, the concept of the course taught me material in new ways that, as I look back on them, make more sense than when they were happening.