Issue #4, April 2007


In this issue of "The Blender" we take a look at e-learning from the student perspective and hear what some of our students have to say about a few BIS blended and distance learning courses.

If you're interested in blending e-learning into your summer or fall BIS courses, we encourage you to take part in our on-going training sessions. For details see the Blended Learning Training Schedule below.



Prosemniar - A Blended Learning Experience in Tidewater

Roots and Stems of Effective Writing - A Blended Learning Course in C'ville

WDWBTTWD - A Distance Learning Experiment

Additional Resources

Blended Learning Training Schedule


Elluminate Live! screenshot from ISLS 302
Why Do We Believe the Things We Do


A Blended Learning Experiment in Tidewater

Glenn Kessler, Ann Marie Plunkett


The Proseminar was our first Tidewater experiment with a learning environment that blends face to face meetings with e-learning technology such as Blackboard and Elluminate Live! If you'd be willing to provide a few sentences (or more) about your blended learning experience in the Proseminar this semester, it would be quite helpful.

Student responses:

I am more than impressed with the Elluminate technology used in this semester's Proseminar.  It provided flexibility for working adults while preserving the integrity of a face-to-face class.  Additionally, the technology was user-friendly, did not require that I download software on my computer--and my Internet connection did not interfere with the quality of the experience.  I highly recommend that the Proseminar be offered in the same blended format for future classes.

The e-learning technology was very effective for this class.  Yes, it is important for us to have the classroom time face to face especially in the beginning, but as the semester progressed the e-learning is all that was necessary.  Elluminate Live! was the best for the virtual classroom as well as the one-on-one "virtual office hour" sessions while we built our proposals. Blackboard helped as it was ALWAYS THERE if we needed to refresh our memories with any of the lessons, verify assignments, etc. 

I really enjoyed this class very much.  I particularly liked the second half of the class because the Elluminate Live! made it possible to hear and see everything going on.  The lectures and power point slides could be printed and with the class archiving, if something was missed, you did not quite understand it, had to miss class because of family or work issues you could still re-listen to the class and not miss out.  Going to the campus two or three times is easy compared to twelve to fourteen times.  Being able to submit work on Blackboard was great as were the ability to access all the links and lecture notes.

Great things about a blended class are:

  • It allows one to go home, eat dinner, get comfortable, and then be online when class meets. 
  • There is no fighting traffic to get through rush hour to class or travel time home after.  That is at least 60 less minutes I spend on the road each time we meet on line.
  • It keeps everyone in touch and involved but doesn’t drain your energy and actually allows more time for study, research, etc. (versus travel time)
  • It would be great if more classes could be taught this way and might allow for more variety of classes here in Tidewater by UVA instructors who don’t want to travel
  • With hand raising, polling buttons, consensus is easily obtained and everyone can participate.
  • I would love to take another class like this in lieu of traveling to a campus every week.
  • When is the next one???


Roots and Stems of Effective Writing
A Blended Learning Course in Charlottesville

Instructor: Charlotte Matthews

For "The Blender," here are some thoughts on the experience of blended learning from the students in Roots and Stems of Effective Writing. 

The Blackboard has helped the class to be organized.  It is a great tool for referencing class agendas and assignments.  Everything is clear in regards to what is expected.

It helped me to get a better understanding of my classmates and you are better able to share and trust.  Builds a sense of comraderie.  Like the additional poems and quotes during the week. 

On the discussion threads I like how it allowed us to see more of each others' writings.  It enabled us to share ideas and gives more opportunities to write.

What I like about it --- it's not just three hours when you are is here all week when you want it to be.  Getting other people's points of view is enlightening. 

It breaks down the stress barrier a little classes that meet only once a week, you only have that one chance for participation..this way there are more chances. 

It shortened in class time.  If you miss class you ... it provided diversity of learning experiences and mediums....Our posts in the discussion 


Why Do We Believe the Things We Do?
A Distance Learning Experiment

Glenn Kessler, Charlotte Matthews


Critical Thinkers,

As we've mentioned several times, WDWBTTWD continues to be an experiment in using distance learning technologies such as Blackboard and Elluminate Live! If you'd be willing to provide a few sentences (or more) about your distance learning experience in WDWBTTWD this semester, it would be quite helpful.

Student responses:

I love distance learning classes.  There are a few pros and cons to it, however.

The pros are: 1.  More people can take the class without having to be on campus  - this means people all over the country could take the course.  2. You can work in your spare time at home in your pajamas.  3.  Students may talk more openly and honestly in discussion boards because people cannot see them when they discuss their emotions or incidents in life.

The cons are: 1.  These same students may not be as open to discussion without an instructor guiding them.  2.  You have to be disciplined to stay on schedule with course work.  3.  You have to be somewhat computer literate to be able to participate in distance learning.

The technology with Eluminate has been great.  I am still a little unsure of wiki and that may because it is new to me and I have not "mastered" it yet. I would like to see more distance learning classes in the future.  

This has been quite an impressive experience.  I had doubts about how well I would fare in an online environment, but it has been amazing.  Incorporating Elluminate Live! sessions make it possible to form relationships and have real time conversations with classmates and professors and, to me, is a crucial component to the course's success.  The multimedia format--narrated PowerPoint presentations, video clips, sound bites, and text on blackboard provided a rich source of material and a unique learning atmosphere.  Another benefit to blackboard is that class doesn't meet just once a week, it is continuous throughout the week, with a lot of dialog between classmates that wouldn't otherwise fit into a traditional classroom's time constraints.  The addition of the Wiki has loads of potential.  (I think some people don't understand how to use it yet--that is the only reason I can think of that they are not embracing it.  To me, it is a far greater tool than the discussion board because of it's fluidity)  I could go on and on but I'll leave it with "I'm sold."

Thank you again for creating such a non-intimidating atmosphere where we have been challenged, to our core, yet still want to expose ourselves and our vulnerabilities to each other.  As painful as this course has been at times, and it has, I'm thankful for every minute of it.  I've never been so challenged.  This is what college should be.  Thank you.




Blended Learning Training Schedule

Stephanie Conely is offering another session of Blackboard 101 for BIS Instructors on Wednesday May 9th from 4:30 to 6:30pm in MEC RM 216. . This is a brief orientation that will cover Blackboard basics. At  the end of the session you'll understand what Blackboard has to offer and how to use some of the basic Blackboard functions for your classes. This session is aimed at instructors who are considering the move from Toolkit to Blackboard or who have not yet ventured into the world of e-learning. 
We also offer a self-paced sequel, Blackboard 101 for Blended Learning, beginning June 11 and running through June 22, that will help you integrate some of Blackboard's more powerful tools into your BIS classes. This course blends e-learning technology (including Blackboard and Elluminate Live! ) with two face-to-face meetings. After taking this course you'll have the opportunity to work directly with Elizabeth Fanning, an instructional design professional, to help design your blended course.  Elizabeth will also provide on-going instructional design support for your course throughout the semester. This is a great opportunity to experiment at your own pace with a rich array of pedagical tools.
Please let Stephanie ( or me ( know whether you're interested in either learning opportunity. We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information, see our Blended Learning Project Website at



Additional Resources

Elluminate Live! screenshot from ISLS 302
Why Do We Believe the Things We Do?

Stay Tuned ....

In the next issue we'll discuss how to begin thinking about a blended learning course.

Please direct questions and comments to Glenn Kessler ( or Stephanie Scheer Conley (