McMaster allocates $1 million to blended learning courses

David Wilkinson, Provost and Vice President (Academic) of McMaster University announced on Sept. 9 the allocation of $1 million towards creating ten new blended learning courses over the next two years.

The courses will focus on online learning, while also providing students with experiential opportunities to apply what they’ve learned online.

“We are working with the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning and working the faculties, investing quite heavily in a number of those kinds of courses,” said Wilkinson. “Five different faculties are going to be engaged in this. The Faculty of Science in particular will be leading the way.”

As well as in the Faculty of Science, blended learning courses will be offered in engineering, business, social science and humanities. The new blended learning technique will mainly be used to develop first-year courses.

A portion of the $1 million allocation will be set aside for MIIETL to develop tools to measure the effectiveness of blended and online learning strategies.

“There is evidence that providing students with different pathways to learn is effective. There is certainly lots of evidence that transfer of knowledge through lecture is a particularly ineffective approach […] to transmitting content,” said Wilkinson. “One of the areas where McMaster wants to lead through MIIETL is actually the development of evidence around [types of learning].”

In addition to the blended learning courses, McMaster has received funding from the Ontario Online Institute to develop seven online courses. These courses will be offered in both first-year and upper-level courses.

“We are going to focus more on blended learning than on purely online content, but we are developing online in a number of different ways,” said Wilkinson.

The Ontario Online Institute is a project that aims to provide online learning opportunities for students in Ontario, eventually enabling students to take online courses at different universities and apply the credit at their home school.

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