Week 1: My Blended Learning Shopping list!

Watching the course intro video it occurs to me that there are many things tutors might be looking to achieve with their blended learning and it is important to know what they are shopping for, before finding a ‘product’ to see them – for example:

  • Making Learning More Active
    This is often the main thing we focus on and we have some great examples being used by tutors  – quizzes on Socrative, Xertes with Drag n Drops exercises etc. but we must remember that there often needs to be a balance of active and passive elements  and not ‘write off’ the ways technology can support more passive learning in the process – the provision of lectures notes, videos of lessons or access to academic journals articles through Moodle for example may seen ‘old fashioned’ but are still really important to some of our higher education students. A key part of interactivity is of course feedback and where this can be provided online (either in a utomated way or by peers) this helps a lot with motivation -sometimes the feedback may still need to be part of the face-to-face element but even then it is worth encouraging tutors to give studuents an online verison they can refer back to. (we love Turnitin!)
  • Central to the course or ‘extra credit’?
    Tutors might feel more comfortable starting with ‘voluntary’ online aspects if they are concerned about their students ability and motivation to undertake Blended Learning and often making any online activity ‘compulsory’ can open a can of worms – all tutors need a plan as to how to handle the student who turns up at the next class withoput completing the online part – whether for valid or dubious reasons! Even providing materials that are not assessed can help students learn at their own pace and learn to learn independently – after all we are all doing this MOOC!
  • Making it More Exciting…
    Of course some students will find using any technology more interesting that not using it (we find this is more common in students than tutors…) but to keep benefiting from the ‘novelty value’ tutors may need to experiment with a wide range of different types of technology – provision of a series of template-based online learning tutorials can soon become as dull as a textbook…
    It can also be a way to use a wider range of sources in your teaching (beyond what the tutor and the textbook know and discuss) and so make your course more international and diverse. Sometimes it can take a brave tutor to let students present their ‘internet sources’ in class but online sharing of research and discussion with peers through something like Delic.i.ous or a Google doc can tell tuors a lot about what their students do and don’t understand.
  • Something Easy, Reliable and Convenient
    If it is possible to use the technologies your students have to hand all the time then that is of course great (we love video created by students on their mobile phones – so quick and easy and better for reflective practice than a polished film of the tutor doing everything right) and of course everything we ask them to use should be convenient to access (single sign-on can make a massive difference – minimise the usernames and passwords).
    Even if a tutor does nothing else, using video resources as well as printed ones makes a huge difference to learning – after all we apparentkly retain much more of what see than what we only read or hear…

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