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Preparing for blended e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012, 05:00

Published in 2007, researched and written over the previous 3-5 years, this book intimates the way things are going - or should I say, the way things have gone already?

The world of e-learning is one that moves fast, so fast that the creation of e-learning has become an integrated global industry - companies, often UK based (even with a Brighton bias) span the globe like international management consultancies, law firms or firms of accountants - indeed, the clients are often international law firms, management consultants, accounts and their clients. Does advertising and PR come into this too? Probably. Internal communications? Certainly.

In 'Preparing for blended e-learning' (2007) the authors Alison Littlejohn and Chris Pegler say that the 'integration of our physical world with the digital domain is becoming ubquitous'. At least two decades ago intergration was already occurring, initially internally, through intranets. Leading businesses knew that educating the 'workforce' was vital so they had learning centres, while the likes of Unipart (UGC) had their own 'university' with faculties and a culture of continual learning. Industry was ahead of tertiary education then and feels light years ahead now with learning created collaboratively on wiki platforms, often using Open Source software with colleagues in different time zones. There is a shift to globalisation in tertiary education, with Business Schools such as Insead, but also with integrated, international universities such as Phoenix buying up or buying into universities around the planet - create an undergraduate course in Geography, a blended e-learning package, and put into onto a campus in North America and South, in Europe and the Middle East, the Far East and Australasia ...

'Learners and teachers increasingly are integrating physical and electronic resources, tools and environments within mainstream educational settings. Yet, these new environments are not yet having a major impact on learning. This is partly because the 'blending' of 'real' and 'virtual' domains - or 'blended learning' - is challenging for most teachers, yet it is becoming an essential skill for effective teaching'. (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2006 L287, Kindle Version)

I'd like to see a corporate e-learning agency create blended e-learning for a university - and to blend this in several additional directions courtesy of social learning back into secondary education, forwards into the workplace and sideways into the community and home. Perhaps I should call it 'smudged learning' - it happens anyway, at least in our household. It's surprising how helpful teenagers can be to their parents who work online - and it is us, the parents, who appear to click them in the right direction of for resources and tools for homework. I wanted Adsense on my blog(s) my son was happy to oblige - for a cut, which more than takes care of his pocket money.

'Blending ... centres on the integration of different types of resources and activities within a range of learning environments where learners can interact and build ideas'. (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2006: L341)

We're in it together like a small community in a medieval market town (actually, I live in one of these, Lewes) where the hubbub of the market spills out into the home and schools. All blended e-learning is doing is returning us to a more social, holistic and humanistic way of learning.

Welcome to the blended world.

What new - the drivers for change:

Costs (spreading them, making it count)

Sustainable (shared, flexible resources. In effect, one book can be shared by all)

Methodologies (still about learning outcomes, but treating each student as much as possible as a unique and vulnerable vessel of possibilities - not a cohort, or label)

Complexity (shared through collaboration in a wiki. Academics find this hardest of all, the idea that their mind , or at least parts of it, are open source, to be shared, not held back by barriers of time, tradition and intellectual arrogance. They too are a vessel and in its purest sense their emptying the contents of their heads into the heads of others is what it is all about)

Ethical issues (when is exposure a good thing? How much should we or do we reveal about ourselves? Knowing who your students are should only be seen as a extraordinarily developmental opportunity, not an invasion of privacy).

REFERENCE

Littlejohn, A., and Pegler, C. (2007) 'Preparing for blended e-learning' (2007)

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