I have now taught Economics 212 – Personal Investing online for three semesters. This semester I decided to teach what UNM calls a hybrid course–one that combines online pedagogy with an in-person class element. My intention had been to bring the discussion into the classroom, to create real-time interactions as the students discuss the topics they had been discussing in the online discussions. Unfortunately there were two consequences of this: both unanticipated, but one that could have been expected now that I reflect upon it.
The first consequence was no direct support from UNM’s online unit, NMEL (I think that stands for new media and extended learning.) Students who enroll in online courses are charged a fee that goes to support NMEL, and consequently a person from that unit is assigned to the course to work with the instructor providing design, development and support throughout the semester. A hybrid course is not considered an online course, and the fee is not levied on the students. NMEL supports all online activities, but indirectly through a support ticket system. It works, but I was expecting the same level of support I had received in previous semesters, hence my surprise when I learned I was not getting that! In the end it all worked out, although there were more bugs than I was used to.
The second consequence was I ended up lecturing during the in-class sessions. I should have known this would happen as students are naturally reticent to speak up in classes, especially if they are large (60+ students.) But there were two other factors leading to the collapse of the in-class discussion: my natural tendency to lecture, and to do so to fill the void, as well as my complete failure at being able to foster large group discussion.
I will return to a full-online course next semester, but will continue to experiment!
This class showed some interesting differences in performance from previous classes. Below is the grade distribution. You can see that 4 (6%) of the students who started the course didn’t finish it. Of the 63 that finished the course 9 (13%) failed. This is surprisingly higher than previously–and I can not offer an explanation. Over 46% earned a grade of A (A-, A or A+.) This is little down on the A grade achievement rates of earlier semesters, but I still consider this an excellent performance from the students.