I have talked about blended learning before but it is my ‘B’ on the A to Z list of learning. When I was employed at Macquarie University I had the privilege of being involved in a blended learning course for academics. It was great to see some of the academics realising they were already adopting blended learning practices and to see some academics take on a new approach in a small way that could possibly make a big difference, like presenting their assessment task in a slightly alternative way to usual with the help of technology.
Blended learning to me is the appropriately balanced facilitation of learning through a mix of face-to-face (f2) lessons and online lessons. But how do you get balance between f2f and online learning? How do you decide what goes online and what is done in a f2f lesson? This prompts my thinking on blended learning and how it relates to the training sessions I facilitate at school with staff who are learning new technology skills and how I can make it a blended learning approach. Right now my IT training sessions consist of about 5 teachers spending about 50 minutes with me and learning probably only 1 new skill at a time. It is all led by me and not greatly varied at the moment. I would really like to develop the model I use for designing and developing training sessions and materials so that it is more blended and would like to be able to ask the teachers to complete an activity online between sessions as well, but being time poor is often the issue.
How could I develop a blended learning model for professional development based on these constraints? The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers some very helpful principles on blended learning design that might be worth considering, they are:
- Focus on outcomes – goals and objectives for the course
- Interaction – maximise opportunities for student-student and instructor-student interactions
- Redesign – think about redesign of the course not just changing parts of the course
- Keep It Simple Starting (KISS) – don’t take on too much too soon
- Allow time
- Organisation – logical sequence of learning activities
- Student expectations – make explicit what they need to know
These are just some of the things to be considered when designing blended learning. My next post will look at Constructivist learning.