Engaging faculty in a conversation about the principles of online and blended learning is something I do on a regular basis. However, this week I had the unique opportunity to present (“on the wall”) to a group of students on this topic. The students I spoke with (pictured above) are preparing to be student leaders in the iPath Project, a grant-funded partnership between CSU Channel Islands and Santa Barbara Community College (SBCC) designed to improve transfer rates, articulation, student success outcomes, and time-to-degree completion for transfer students. The majority of CI students transfer from a California Community College (CCC) and the iPath Project is poised to be a model program for CCCs and CSUs across the state.
The roles of the student leaders (who, by the way, each transferred from a community college), involve designing and facilitating a semester-long blended learning program for students enrolled in a course at SBCC who plan to transfer. The student leaders will meet with the SBCC students one time per month in a face-to-face setting at SBCC and between those face-to-face sessions, will facilitate online activities designed to strengthen the students’ knowledge and skills about their upcoming transfer experience.
As we reviewed the 5 principles of blended learning, I felt excited for the students. This is a very innovative program. The student leaders are making a significant contribution to finding sustainable, flexible options for supporting the 2-year to 4-year transfer experience. We discussed ideas for online activities including mobile campus scavenger hunts and asynchronous VoiceThread interviews with members of CI’s student support services.
However, as I prepared for today’s session I was mindful to think about how the students are feeling as they step into their new role. I remembered how I felt when I started teaching online — nervous! The benefit they have is their keen ability to see the program they design through the lens of a transfer student. And that is a tremendous asset! Innovative programs like this one is what makes me love my job at CI!