Blended learning activity 1: The muddiest point (blended mode)

Introduction

In many blended subjects, lecturers provide subject content in a variety of formats in the LMS (e.g. short narrated PowerPoint videos, key readings, animated videos, podcasts). While these materials may be engaging, learning remains passive if students are not required to complete activities related to this content. Blended learning activities bridge the gap between the online and face-to-face environments.

Why do this activity?

Encourages reflection
Students learn best when they reflect on their learning by asking themselves questions such as 'what have/haven't I learned and why?' 'How could I learn more effectively?' The muddiest point (blended mode) activity asks students to nominate the most difficult concept from a list of concepts covered in a set of online learning materials and these are followed up in the face-to-face class.

Gives you feedback on your students' learning
The muddiest point activity gives you immediate feedback on the concepts or skills your students find the most difficult so that you can follow it up in the next face-to-face class. Often this feedback is only available after the final exam, when it's too late to address it.

How do I do this activity?

Option 1

Before class
Identify a set of potential muddiest points related to the weekly online materials. Use a Moodle Choice activity to set up a poll for LMS where students vote on the muddiest point. You (and your students) can see other students' responses.

During F2F class
What you do in the face-to-face class may depend on the responses you get to the poll:

  1. Almost all students choose the same muddiest point
    Put the students into small groups and ask them to devise two or three questions about their points of confusion. Groups read out their questions and others in the class attempt to answer them. Any remaining questions or confusions are clarified by the tutor/lecturer.
  2. There is a fairly even spread of muddiest point choices
    Put the students into groups according to their muddiest point choice. Ask each group to devise two or three questions about their points of confusion. Mix the groups up so that each muddiest point is represented in each group. Ask students to try to answer other's questions. Any remaining questions or confusions are clarified by the tutor/lecturer.
  3. There are some clear muddiest points and others which few students chose
    Follow the procedure for 1 or 2 above, but leave out the option(s) which few students chose. It is likely that the least common muddiest point may be less difficult to grasp, so it may be better not to single out a small number of students who chose this.

Option 2

Before class
Students are asked to devise one question related to the muddiest point for them from the online materials on a particular topic. They post this question on the LMS discussion forum for that topic. Other students attempt to answer these questions. Each student is required to post one question and at least one answer.

During F2F class
The instructor can look over the students' online questions and responses and clear up any remaining questions in the next face-to-face class.

Watch a video about this activity