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Online task 10

Students should submit the outline of their research paper. This is crucial because despite repeated discussions on what a research paper should look like, what parts it should contain, what kind of research questions should be asked and how data should be analyzed, participants will be hesitant as to what they are expected to do. Therefore, it is advisable to ask them to hand in an outline, as this makes them think about the questions they might have. On the other hand, the submitted proposals will provide the tutor with a better understanding of the potential difficulties students may have in writing up their ideas for a research paper. The tutor will provide feedback in writing, by indicating the strong and weak parts of the outline, add comments and ask students to edit and develop their proposals into research papers by a negotiated date.

Face-to-face session 3:

Students are expected to write an in-class essay in which they reflect critically on an indicated topic, based on their readings. While asking students to write an in-class essay in one of the few face-to-face sessions may seem like a luxury, and you may well want to spare precious in-person instruction time for discussions instead. While the latter is a perfectly reasonable option, some teaching and learning contexts call for opportunities where students can exhibit their critical essay writing skills and language proficiency in a more controlled setting than the online platform where they post their tasks as a rule. By this I mean that some of the students who attend our MA courses need to be filtered for language proficiency and this may not be possible if they keep editing their writing based on the tutor's or peers' suggestions, however useful these may be from the point of view of long-term development. Therefore, students are required to produce a coherent written text which will be assessed on content knowledge (60%) and on correct academic English (40%).

Benefits and challenges of implementing the Teaching Culture course in a blended learning mode

As the Teaching Culture course was piloted in its blended form in the fall semester of 2014-2015, at the point of writing this document we have certain insights into some of the advantages and challenges a blended learning model of this, as well as similar courses might present in the future.

The advantages of running this course in a blended learning mode appeared to be the following:

  • Students got easy access to learning and teaching materials, which they could all find on Coo-Space.
  • As all the participants were required to regularly post comments related to their readings and to one another's opinions about the assigned readings, they, paradoxically, contributed more to the course than they usually do during the usual five face-to-face sessions that correspondance students have scheduled in their timetables during the semester. This way, more reserved members, who may have been silent or rather withdrawn during class, made essential contributions to the classwork.
  • Admittedly, students had the chance to express their personal views and original insights in a stress-free and relaxed context;
  • Students' written comments and the research projects they handed in as requirements for the course prove that participants gained a profound understanding of the subject matter. This can be also attributed to the facts that (1) during the blended learning course reading and projects could be completed at students' own pace, as well as to the fact that (2) assistance was provided with difficult concepts within the frame of face-to-face sessions;
  • It is hoped that by attending the Teaching Culture course in a blended learning mode, also contributed to enhancing participants' methodological repertoire, as the tasks and processes involved provided them with concrete examples of how to develop autonomous learning strategies and cooperation with their own students, in their own classrooms. The research papers handed in for the course show that participants have learned to construct similar tasks and to apply similar techniques themselves, taking in consideration their own teaching contexts and their learners' needs and wants.
  • Finally, as participants were encouraged to reflect on their own learning experiences on a regular basis, the course has helped participants integrate theoretical insights with their daily practice, and it has helped raise their awareness of why they do what they do in their classes
Discussion platforms: Responses and life online