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Kim Aling

MOOC Blended Learning Essentials: Week 1 reflection

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It's been a very interesting week exploring the meaning of blended learning.  I think that there are many ways to define this term and none will be any more correct than the other.  It's up to the definer to defined their definition and it depends upon the values they wish to include.  The course definition is similar to the concept of technology enhanced learning. I don't have a problem with that. There is nothing about 'blended learning' as a term that should exclude that.  Another definition of blended learning is one that blends face-to-face teaching with online using digital technology.  That is also a relevant definition, just a different view of what is blended.  However, the course definition does open up a greater range of study.  It's not just about the technology that students use outside the classroom, but also what they use inside. Diana Laurillard suggests that it provides opportunities for all students to engage with technology, especially where they may not get it at home.  This definition therefore includes an element of equity.

Other values that I want to see embodied in a definition are empowerment of learners, independence, interaction and social constructivist pedagogy. Learners should be able to interact with each other and with technology, so an interactive whiteboard should not be used simply as a whiteboard to present, but something learners can physically interact with. Technology should allow learners to take charge of their learning and learn at their own pace and in their own way.  Technology should allow choice in ways to access learning. Technology should facilitate collaborative learning. 

This week has introduced some interesting tools, especially reminding me about wordwalls.  I'm now intending to use Padlet in a session on learning technology later this month.  I also liked the survey tools and have shared it with others at college.  The Glossary is OK but clunky to use.  Moodle Glossary is much easier.  The danger is that you can end up recommending so many tools, all doing similar things that teachers get confused.  Why use an online survey tool when you can use a survey on Moodle, or a Google Form, or Survey Monkey? 

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Kim Aling

MOOC: Blended Learning Essentials- How is blended learning changing teaching and learning

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Please use the comments to reflect on the responses highlighted in the video. And what are your thoughts? How is digital technology changing teaching and learning for you and your learners? And maybe more importantly, how would you like it to change in the future?

There were several ways highlighted in the case studies:

  • Fosters independent learning
  • Student-centred learning
  • Widens range of resources available
  • Uses devices that students already use
  • Anytime-anywhere learning
  • Makes learning more interesting

I would also add that it can contribute to more authentic learning.  Students can work with a wider community of practice within their subject areas.  They can link with practitioners to see how what they are learning makes sense in the real world.  Abstract ideas can then be grounded and made more accessible.  Also, technology enables new and novel ways of teaching and learning that can't be achieved face-to-face in the classroom.  For example, engaging with practitioners through twitter, or collaborative work with peers through shared documents.  Collaborative and curating tools available online allow students to engage with higher thinking skills much more easily.

Anytime and anywhere learning also changes the culture of learning, making it something more than what happens within the physical and temporal confines of the classroom.

In the future I would like to see much more opportunity for all students to experience a blended learning approach from their early education onwards.  It is still patchy, in spite of the rhetoric, in schools, colleges and universities.  Adopting a blended learning strategy is a collective action problem as it requires everyone to be involved in order to change the culture of teaching and learning away from the acquisition model towards the participation model.

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