Stages of Implementation
UJ first started by training two volunteer professors (Nimer Abusalim from the Department of English and Nour Suleiman from the Department of Linguistics) so as to start the experiment in two of their courses, which were to be offered in the Spring of 2016/ 2017. Prior to the training, a working definition was pinpointed for blended learning: the blending in the same course of face-to-face-education and online learning. The training, conducted by a team from the IT School in close coordination with the office of the Vice President for Humanities, took about three months and focused on both components of the blended learning approach: face-to-face meetings and online learning. The emphasis in the training was on making class meetings based on co-operative and experiential learning, and the online component on interactive learning. A lot of attention was given to the online component, especially since it is – in its interactive format – new to many professors.
After the three-month training period, in which flipped learning and project-based learning were also embedded within blended learning, the two professors were ready to embark on the journey. So, in the second semester of 2016/2017, they started the implementation. The two courses were chosen as single-section courses, and from those meeting three times a week: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The formula chosen was 2+1: i.e. students will meet face-to-face with their professors, as usual, on Sunday and Tuesday (hence the 2 in 2+1) and the traditional Thursday meeting will be replaced by online activities and tasks which the students execute on their own, anywhere on or off-campus, from Tuesday night to Saturday night (hence the 1 in 2+1).
The piloting proved to be a resounding success, and in the summer of 2016/2017, six courses were taught as blended courses. The six, all taught in the Department of English and the Department of Linguistics, proved to be a success also. In the following first semester of 2017/2018, the number of courses offered as blended jumped to 42 (67 sections) offered in nearly all humanities schools. Since then, the number has been increasing steadily across the University, including the scientific schools. As of the Fall semester of 2019/2020, these numbers have increased to include over 19 faculties out of 20, 244 lecturers, 232 courses, 474 sections, and over 26000 students.
It goes without saying that a system was put in place for training, coordination, monitoring, assessment and feedback. As the numbers increased, the university sought to institutionalize the process by creating a dedicated center for blended learning progress. Currently, this role is taken on by the Center of Open Educational Resources and Blended Learning. As UJ has newly created a Center for Open Educational Resources, the Center is currently taking charge of the blended learning drive in order to augment and expand it further, as the adoption and meticulous implementation of blended learning is one of UJ's prime goals.