Blended and Online Learning Design

Online courses developed by the McGraw Center are taught primarily by Princeton faculty members on subjects they also teach on campus. Our online courses reflect the University’s commitment to the liberal arts, and are eligible for support from the 250th Fund for Innovation in Undergraduate Education. The McGraw Center develops both small, private online courses that enhance residential teaching and learning as well as free, open-access online courses. We welcome proposals from faculty, accompanied by an endorsement from the department chair.

Teaching in an open online course in which all of the learning activities take place online enables faculty to share knowledge with a wide range of students around the world as well as enrich theirs and their students' perspectives on their disciplinary knowledge. Alternatively, by combining an on­campus class with a private online course site to deliver course content, faculty can use their face to face time in class for activities such as experiments, group projects, discussions and other learning experiences.

Private or open courses may be conducted as sessions that unfold over a number of weeks in which students form a cohort with a synchronous learning experience. Alternatively, courses may be offered so that all of the material is available for students to individually work through according to their own schedules or return for reinforcement. Online environments can be defined by who the students are, the extent of integration with an on­campus course, and the degree to which the learning activities take place online:

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

Access to a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is usually free and open to anyone in the world, and all the learning activities take place online. Princeton has offered more than a dozen MOOCS since 2012 and to more than 1.5 million students worldwide through the Coursera  and NovoEd platforms. These non­credit course offerings have varied widely across the disciplines and length. They are typically based on campus courses, may run concurrently with the courses upon which they are based, and offers Princeton students a supplement to their coursework. Students in a campus course may also be assigned to enroll in a course­related MOOC that is running concurrently so that they can learn from the online materials and from the diverse perspectives among global students, such as in Jennifer Widner's open online course Making Government Work in Hard Places (WWS 572A) and Jeremy Adelman's Global History Lab (HIS 201).

Flipped, hybrid or blended courses

These terms are often used synonymously to describe courses that are designed in a variety of ways that combine learning activities in both online and classroom environments. In a “flipped” class, for example, the traditional elements of a college class are inverted. Students might watch video lectures and complete assignments online so that their class time with faculty can be used for discussions, problem­solving, and other activities. In her Electronic and Phototonic Devices course (ELE 208), Prof. Claire Gmachl "flipped" several lectures with especially abstract or challenging material so that her students could interactively view her lectures videos by pausing and reviewing material in preparation for discussions with her in class about concepts and problems that need additional attention. In other hybrid courses, faculty use the online environment to extend the learning activities beyond the classroom. In another example, Prof. Jeremy Adelman’s Global History Lab (HIS 201) used his open online course to flip the lectures in the campus course and enhance the student experience by bringing together Princeton students and students from around the globe who were taking his MOOC so that they could learn from and share perspectives on global history with one another.

In an alternative form of hybrid or blended teaching, students in Prof. Sigrid Adriaenssens’s class on Mechanics of Solids (CEE 205) use their private online course site to access readings, view lectures, submit and give feedback on each other's design work. In this model, the classes are not "flipped", but the online environment is used to cohesively extend and amplify the activity of the classroom.

Small Private Online Course (SPOC)

At Princeton, a private online course is typically open to members of the University and contains online learning modules that might support coursework across a number of classes.