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Integrating online components into your course

Taking it slowly, a hybrid approach to integrating technology into a face-to-face course provides many benefits for faculty.  Faculty can leverage online tools to their advantage in a face-to-face class.  Using online tools in a face-to-face course allows faculty to practice in a safe, responsive atmosphere with less anxiety, and obtain direct feedback from students.  Slowly integrating technology into a face-to-face course is beneficial to both faculty and students. 

There are many ways online tools can be leveraged in a face-to-face course:

Communicating with Students
  • Provide syllabi, handouts, and other course information on Sakai
  • Send email to students enrolled in the class without the need for a mailing list
  • Make announcement and reminders online in text or voice
Class Management
  • Break up large classes in to small groups
  • Use Smart View to show a customized grade book
  • Collect assignment online
  • Check for plagiarism using TurnItIn
Time Management
  • Extend class time with Discussion Forums
  • Provide narrated lectures
  • Use pre- and post-test online
  • Online office hours

Communication is key to building a good teacher-student relationship.  By using Sakai to provide syllabi, course outlines, handouts, and course information online; students are given the ability to retrieve this information on demand from any computer with an internet connection.  Sakai also offers instructors and students with an easy way to send email.  Email groups are automatically created to send e-mail to individual and groups of students, all students enrolled in the course, and all faculties.   Announcements in Blackboard show up on the first page once a student logs into the course.  Announcements can be text messages or you can add voice to personalize the message.  Announcements can also be sent out as an email in addition to being posted on the main page.

Class Management can also be a Sakai function.  Break up large classes into small groups.  Backboard can create group areas which restrict access to group members and faculty.  Groups are given tools such as a group discussion board, file exchange, synchronous chat, and group e-mail.  Within the Sakai grade book.  Views can be customized to show individual groups, class sections (Mondays, Tuesday, etc.), and many other options.  Collect assignments online with Sakai.  Instead of collecting and carrying a stack of papers or having your inbox flooded, use the assignment feature.  Sakai can track when assignments are turned in and store it within the courses grade book until faculty are ready to review them.  Files turned in can all be downloaded at one time in a .zip file or individually; Sakai also allows for a group upload once the papers are graded.   Prompt feedback to the student can also be given via the gradebook.  Assignments can even be checked for plagiarism using the TurnItIn Assignment feature.

Time Management can be easy with Sakai.  When is there ever enough time to cover all the material in class?  Using online tools in a face-to-face class can keep your course schedule on track and allow more flexibility to your personal schedule.  Continue in-class discussion on the discussion forum.  Allow students to ruminate and collect their thoughts before sharing their insightful comments.   Recorded lectures using Power Point can be used for classes that are cancelled or postponed.   Use pre- and post-quizzes online to determine what material needs to be focused on in class.  Offer online office hours from anywhere.  
In this hybrid approach to integrating technology into a face-to-face class Faculty and students both benefit.  Faculty can experiment and gain experience with the added benefit of face-to-face feedback from students.  Students benefit by learning course content and computing skills.  Providing students with repeated experience with Sakai and other online tools supplies them with consistency throughout their academic careers.  Using online tools in their courses provides exposure and practical experience with new technologies.  Faculty and students can have the best of both words.