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. #715
      Avatar of Tracey F
      Tracey F
      Participant

      Hi Everyone,

      To me blended learning is a combination of face to face instruction with online or web-based teaching/learning.  What I am discovering though, it isn’t as simple as just that.  Incorporating any technology into the classroom involves careful thought and preparation.  Facilitating social interaction, collaboration and discussion within the online elements of a blended learning pedagogical approach is extremely important.

      Some of the opportunities of a blended approach to learning would be the ability to expand the reaches of a subject being taught/learned in the classroom, benefitting from the knowledge, opinions and perspectives of those students who are historically quiet in a traditional classroom setting, added flexibility for students to complete and participate in class projects, assignments and discussions, added face time with the teacher to question, explore and practice what is learned on line and opportunities for students to explore a variety of methods of expression.  Even though I have been on leave for a couple of years and my school was not equipped with the latest and the greatest technologies, I still knew that students deserved a choice in how they approached and completed many of my assignments.  It was more difficult, but utilizing technology was always an option.  However, the benefits of utilizing technology as a form of pedagogy or inquiry, blended with the advantages of a living, breathing, caring teacher as opposed to simply utilizing technology as a means of presenting something in a more entertaining way is really starting to become clear to me.

      Learning the mechanics of technology I find is a real challenge for me.  I am by no means technologically illiterate, but learning about what digital tools are available, mastering how they work and utilizing their capabilities to produce an effective, engaging and challenging lesson feels very daunting to me.  If I want to redesign a traditional course into an worthwhile blended learning course I need to know the ins and outs of so many digital programs, software, apps and management systems. Yikes!! In one of the readings for this week however, I was heartened by the advice that suggested that blended courses or programs should be continually developed over years rather than weeks before a class begins.

      I teach junior high and high school English and I think a blended learning approach would marry beautifully with this core class as the students explore and analyze many different texts and practice many forms of expression.  Having access to online plays and pieces of writing from around the world, speaking with authors, experiencing and presenting creative content, writing blogs, writing to a wider audience and writing collaboratively are just a few of the options I can think of and I don’t yet fully grasp the concept of Blended learning.  I am very excited to learn about all ways in which I can begin to develop my own blended learning environment.

      Kindly,

      Tracey

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    2. #716
      Avatar of Kamal Pu
      Kamal Pu
      Participant

      Blended learning can be defined as a combination of learning in a face to face environment along with learning using online tools and environment. As technology becomes more and more ubiquitous, blended learning in my mind seems to stress upon ‘anytime, anywhere’ from a wider perspective for twenty first century learners. Perhaps blended learning is an approach that can help educators and learners to probe into the depths of a concept, making individualized learning even more meaningful, interconnected and relevant. Learning today is no longer restricted to the four walls of a traditional classroom or other physical limitations. In my view, blended learning compels an optimal utilization of online resources in hand for promoting opportunities of active engagement.
      Within this context, I believe effective time management is one the challenges of blended learning. From a K-12 perspective it is important for learners to use technology for learning but also to be cognizant of the importance of the delicate balance between virtual and real worlds as they seem to be overlapping to a large extend in our daily lives. I believe probing into the same would help to understand the future of blended learning. This may also help to apply a blended learning approach in schools better, especially at the elementary level where digital natives may appear to utilize technology and understand it with apparent ease!
       

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    3. #718
      Avatar of Jordan robinson
      Jordan robinson
      Participant

      Blended learning is a combination of independent, self-directed work with live and/or face-to-face instruction relating to specific learning outcomes. I can relate it to sports, in particular any team sport. For example, an athlete will work alone, at the playground, on her jump shot; she will always work at practice with teammates (full court drills, defensive drills in groups, passing drills in pairs) and lastly, in unison with teammates in games (evaluation). Each form of practice relate to the idea of asynchronous and synchronous learning.

       
      The biggest opportunity for blended learning environments, especially in an online setting, are creating a social context for learning. In my previous studies, all online courses I took became virtually pdf reading, discussion board posting adventures: all asynchronous, all the time, and ultimately boring. The past three masters courses I have taken have combined a synchronous aspect of the online course which has been a breath of fresh air for my learning. Hearing real voices, having real time conversations, all with flexibility still intact for my own learning (to an extent), has made my current experience of course work more engaging, refreshing, and current.

       
      With flexibility as a positive, the draw back I see to blended learning is the technical demands required of users straight out of the gate. For instance, I have currently experienced three different learning managements systems in the past year (moodle, blackboard, and D2L), signed up for a word press, COi, ucalgary blogs, and youtube acct, and lastly, developed and created profiles in each of these unique softwares to given a more human touch to my accounts (i.e. removing the default picture setting). This has, at times, been overwhelming and redundant. In addition, if technical glitches occur at non-opportune times, face to face, in online environments, breakdown. One could argue that power outages and bad traffic can do that to real world face to face too, however, there just seems to be more trouble shooting steps required for the online model.

       
      In my workplace (7-12 school), google docs has transformed how we communicate, collaborate, and interact. Kriegel’s notion, “Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers”, had traction at our school; for instance, our morning announcements book (for time immemorial) was a coil notebook, placed in a mail box outside of the principal’s door. If you had a message to write you recorded it in the notebook. Too often (from my office next door), I could hear people calling out five minutes before the announcements were read in the morning: “where’s the announcements book?’. Today, we have created an editable google doc that teachers can access (even write in) as the principal is reading the announcements over the P.A. . Though a stretch for blended learning, I think this is step in the right direction for my work place.

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    4. #735
      Avatar of Skye
      Skye
      Participant

      Hello everyone!  It’s great to see your shining faces again!!  Here’s to a great start in the new year!
      In response to the questions posed here and in the short survey, my definition of blended learning at this point would be learning that is facilitated with a variety of methodologies, mediums, tools and pedagogies that facilitate student curiosity, motivation, engagement, critical thought and understanding of information.
      This  blended learning approach opens up opportunities for providing students with a more self-directed way of learning and can foster a more holistic educational experience to provide students with the skills and expertise they will need in their future professions.  Blended learning also provides a more balanced and equal opportunity for students with different abilities or learning disabilities.
      Some of the challenges discussed in relation to blended learning tend to be the time commitment, cost, training and level of responsibilities placed on class room teachers to facilitate this type of education.
      As a part time assistant in the front office and Fresh Start Program at St. Anne I notice that blended learning is already seamlessly integrated into our work environment.  We use email, internet, intranet, websites, printed handouts, online forms, verbal communication and physical/body language communication everyday.
      In the Fresh Start Program students are given the opportunities to chose the mediums they feel most comfortable learning on, paper, text, Ipads, mobiles, peer discussions, etc.  For research on an ELA assignment, a student chose to search online articles and I also suggested a CBC Online Documentary for her to explore the topic as well.  She chose to write her notes on paper by hand.  It’s both a conscious and subconscious application in our lives everyday.

      Many thanks for your interesting perspectives and experiences all!
      All the best,
      Skye :)

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    5. #736
      Avatar of Rahim
      Rahim
      Participant

      Hello Everybody,

      Here are my thoughts about Blended Learning.
      I would define blended learning as being a learning process where there is a combination of face to face, traditional learning and online learning using different technologies over the internet.
      Blended learning provides opportunities for students to engage with their peers through online communities of inquiry where students can discuss different topics covered in the classroom. Sometimes, due to lack of enough time to discuss a certain topic in the class, a blended setting would extend this discussion over the online community. Moreover, blended approach would also provide opportunities for students to participate online if they missed in class discussions.
      One of the challenges of blended learning is managing both in-class and online learning environments. It would require more time and efforts from instructors implementing blended learning approach when scheduling online and in-class sessions and providing support for online technologies. However, time and resources invested in setting up a blended learning would be worthwhile if it increased students’ learning and made the learning more productive.
      Most of the professional development activities at my workplace use blended approach where I participate in technical conferences and workshops and share my experiences and ideas on the online community as I develop technical solutions. Online technical community has been an important part of my work because it connects me with other experienced professionals and enables me to learn from them.
      Thanks for reading!
      Rahim.

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