Blended learning – what is it?

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This topic contains 16 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by Avatar of Dan McGuire Dan McGuire 3 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #699
    Avatar of Norm Vaughan
    Norm Vaughan
    Key Master

    Hi Everyone,

    Please take a moment to share your initial thoughts and insights regarding the following 3 questions:

    1. What is your definition of blended learning?

    2. What do you think are the opportunities of a blended approach to learning?

    3. What are some of the challenges with blended learning?

    4. How do you think you could apply a blended approach in your school, workplace, and/or institution? Looking forward to reading your responses!!

    Take care, Norm

    1. #702
      Avatar of Mylan D-N
      Mylan D-N
      Participant

      Hi Everyone,

      Blended learning to me has always been to learn by any means possible. I have never learned well in a face-to-face classroom, so when I was working as an ESL teacher, I was quite enthused about using different approaches in teaching English to new immigrants. I had no choice, really – since my students could hardly speak the language, being a sage on the stage would not do any good. This was before laptops and tablets were readily available, and only a handful of students could afford a cell phone. In those days, technology meant CD and DVD players, computer lab time and a multimedia projector (if the school was well-heeled enough to have a couple of laptops). My school was not, so it was up to me to wheel the television into the class each day and to sign out a few digital recorders under the watchful eyes of my supervisor, swearing that I would return these precious objects in the same condition that I had signed them out. My students and I still had a great time. I always marveled at how my lesson plans always expanded into some other directions, and fortunately for me, I was naive enough then to think that it was a good thing!

      If one is open to the idea, one will see opportunities for blended learning everywhere. I believe that to learn the content is a great thing, but to know where to get the content is a greater thing. No matter how one does it, be it aurally or visually, in person or by technology, the end result is to know what to do.  Personally, I think that the main challenge I have with blended learning is my inadequacy in the use of technology. It is not that I fear being laughed at – I have children who are light years ahead of their mother in this area so I am no stranger to the sighing and the eye-rolling :) . I am just afraid that I do not know enough to be effective and efficient. That is why I am here in the eLearning Certificate Program: I would like to be effective and efficient.

      I work in a different environment now but I am quite envious of all the teachers out there for all the new technologies available to them nowadays. Most of these technologies are not applicable to my work situation right now.  For the most parts, the main reason is that people resist, not to new things, but to the new ways of doing things. To apply a blended approach successfully in any situation, it has to make sense to the people involved. I do not believe in instituting new technology randomly just for the sake of having the tool. One has to show how the new tool will help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the workplace before it can be embraced by all.
      Best,

      Mylan

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    2. #703
      Avatar of Kara Loy
      Kara Loy
      Participant

      Greetings!

      Blended learning means a mix of tools and styles to create conditions for learning to take place. In particular it refers to a combination of traditional mechanisms such as face-to-face learning with a teacher and pupils in the same location as well as 2.0 applications and technologies.
      2. What do you think are the opportunities of a blended approach to learning?

      More flexible learning, free of shared geography and time zones;
      more diverse groups of learners, interactive in distinct ways;
      wider range of accessibility.

       
      3. What are some of the challenges with blended learning?

      More critical lieracies are required on the part of instructors and learners due to less homogenous groups and pairrings;
      more media literacy is required from users;
      maintaining quality of teaching methods and approaches;
      facilitating participation;
      creating and maintaining fair and meaningful evaluation mechanisms;
      and, ensuring mechanisms for evolution and continual actualization of learning.

      4. How do you think you could apply a blended approach in your school, workplace, and/or institution?

      I foresee more outsourcing of current English for Academic Purposes to pre-arrival of International Students at undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition, immigrants and potential immigrants in rural areas and/or those who are shiftworkers will have better access to learning and opportunity for self-advancement through increased and improved blended learning services.

       

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    3. #704
      Avatar of Joanne
      Joanne
      Participant

       
      Asalamu Alakum from the UAE.
      Blended learning to me is a mixture of face to face learning and online learning.  Ideally you take the best of each format and intertwine it some way to make it more effective than face-to-face learning or online learning.  It sounds simple, but I imagine that the actual creation of this format can be time consuming and hard work.  So I guess an advantage is that you can take the best of face-to-face teaching and online learning and use both in a blended learning format.  A disadvantage I envision is the initial time it will take to set up the new course in a blended learning format.
       
      I currently teach face-to-face with pre-kindergarten students.  Similar to Mylan, non of my students speak English. I am sure it is possible, but I am unsure how I would apply a blended learning model to my class.  What may be more useful for my school is some kind of blended learning professional development (PD) training for the teachers.  I work in a small town outside of Al Ain, UAE.  Professional development is hard to come by out here.  We do most of our PD independently by taking online courses in our own time like this course.  Designing a blended learning PD for teachers may be useful as you could tailor the course to suit each teacher, avoiding the ‘one-size-fits-all’ situation that many of us experience during PD training in-house.
      Masalama for now.
      Jo (Joanne Livingstone)
       

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    4. #706
      Avatar of CGroom
      CGroom
      Participant

      Hi all.   I am six months away from completing an MA in Learning and Technology through RRU (not that I’m counting down or anything).  My research project is on blended learning and I’m using the CoI as a theoretical framework – so it’s great to be here.  I am also using the newly published text ‘Teaching in Blended Learning Environments’ for quite a bit of my work so thanks to the authors :) . My teaching environment is largely traditional (I teach cardiac sonography at BCIT – mostly in the lab setting and I team-teach with another instructor who delivers everything via lecture).

      Blended learning is a combination of face-to-face and online learning opportunities “with the aim of each complimenting each other” (Poon, 2013, para. 1).  I’ve quoted Poon here although I’ve come across many authors who have described blended learning in this way. 

      In terms of the opportunities that blended learning offers, I believe that blended learning provides the opportunity for higher-order thinking and I say this based on my limited experience teaching in the blended learning environment.  Recently, I transitioned a three hour lecture into a blended module.  I asked the students to read the online material (supplemented with videos/images etc..- the stuff I never had time to show in class), and develop five multiple choice questions based on the new information. (There was a short section in the module on how to develop a good multiple choice question. In order to become a registered sonographer, our students write several multiple choice exams). For the one hour face-to-face session, I reviewed the material/answered questions for half of the time and for the other half, the students worked in teams and vetted each others’ questions to come up with the three ‘best’ questions from each team (there’s something to be said about student developed content).  Once the questions were chosen, I added them to the LMS as a review tool.  This exercise allowed me to evaluate their depth of knowledge and when compared to previous years was significantly higher – even their verbal questions in class lead me to believe that they just seemed to ‘get it.’  And finally, the verbal feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive – the students appreciated the time away from campus and the flexibility to learn at their convenience.
      The biggest challenge that I see is faculty support in adopting blended learning.  According to the literature, this requires a complete redevelopment/redesign of a course and I could not agree more.  Until educational institutions understand this, I don’t see quality blended learning going very far.  I work with instructors who add a bit of technology and call their course blended but they fail to examine or understand the pedagogy of a blended learning environment.
      I’m interested in learning more about blended learning in the context of vocational education.  I think that there is HUGE opportunity for vocational institutions to take this and run with it.  Transition the didactic content to online and have the students on-campus for the hands on practical portion.  But with this vision comes the necessity for robust faculty development opportunities.

      Thanks for the opportunity to share.

      Charmaine

       

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    5. #708
      Avatar of Lisa RL
      Lisa RL
      Participant

      Hi Everyone,

      I think Mylan, Jo, and Kara all had good points, so I will just add some additional thoughts.

      #2 – The biggest benefit for me is increased flexibility and differentiated learning opportunities. It is a lot easier to offer students choice when they are using computers. As well, I think it helps to increase the amount of “professional” written communication between my students. I realized that many of my students have no where to learning collegial writing. Writing to a teacher is not the same as writing to a peer and it’s a skill that blended learning makes much more authentic to learn.

      #3 – The big downside for me is equity. Blended learning makes assumptions about the availability to computers and Internet both in the classroom and at home. This year, I have one student who openly admits that she does not have internet at home (and probably a few who didn’t admit it to me) and its inappropriate for me to insist that she travel to the library to complete her homework. As well in situations where the amount of classroom time is inflexible (K-12) it is important that we not use blended learning to extend the amount of work in the classroom. I am lucky because since I teach in a computer lab I can use blended learning techniques as part of my instructional time, but there are many classes where that is not possible.

      #4 – I am really lucky in that I teach entirely in a computer lab so blended approach works really well in my classes. I am excited to learn new and more effective means of blending my teaching in this course.  I am especially interested in exploring approaches that pull out of the online world back into the face-2-face classroom as interpersonal communication is something I always like to work on with my students.

      Sincerely,

      Lisa

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