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Posts Tagged ‘blended

Singaporeans relate to food more than anything else, so I will use ice cream, to explain why blended learning is a misnomer.
 

 
Some “blended” learning looks like Neapolitan ice cream. There are three flavours in one ice cream, but the flavours (chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla) are distinct.

This is like claiming to teach a multidisciplinary topic but focusing on, say, language, science, and mathematics as a silos instead of an integrated whole.

Another example of Neapolitan “blended” learning is switching artificially from one medium or tool to another, e.g., from book to LMS to in-person discussion just because you can and in a disjointed fashion.

Sometimes the rationale for such a design is that one of the strategies will appeal to some of the students just like some might like one flavour of ice cream over another. This rationale is often linked to the misguided belief in learning styles.
 

 
Another form of “blended” learning is ripple ice cream. Here the flavours are more mixed in, but they are still visibly distinct. However, it is harder to separate them into chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.

The integration of such “blended” learning topics or tools is better, but there is still an artificial separation for effect or appearances.

The purpose of a rippled experience might be to require learners to make distinctions due to curricular requirements or because the teacher is not comfortable instructing outside their comfort zone.

The rippled appearance might be designed to let an observer (e.g., a colleague, a principal, or a supervisor) see the effort made in technology use so that the teaching satisfies a rubric.

Whether Neapolitan or rippled, blended “learning” is a misnomer because it is about teaching. Learning is not blended or not; it is just learning.

A learner does not necessarily see the curricular silos in the same sense as the teacher. As I have said before: Teaching is neat and learning is messy.

For teaching to be effective, it must empathise with the learner and learning processes. If there is any blending, it might be like a smoothie — seamless.

A learning experience that is seamless is one in which:

  • lessons flow naturally and logically
  • technology is an enabler and not a mere enhancer
  • learning is not limited within classroom walls and is linked to life and/or community
  • content is not a race or a series of checkpoints

It might seem difficult to create such a blended experience because a lot of teacher preparation seems to focus largely on the expert notion of teaching. If we observe and listen intently to our learners, we might sense what they are trying to tell us. To get the blend right, we need to realise that teaching alone does not guarantee learning. Focusing on learners and how they learn does.

 
There is a question that sometimes irks me after I am done with workshops, talks, or demonstrations. That question is: Do you have something I can read on [topic]?

Depending on the context, my knowledge of that person, or my reading of mindsets, that person falls into one of at least two categories.

The first is a genuine interest to know more. I have no problems with that, which is why I normally pepper my presentations or materials with links.

The second is a harmful and theory-oriented mindset. If I take blended learning for example, then the question is: Can you provide more readings on blended learning?

If you want to find out more, then good for you. But if you think that there is an instruction manual for blended learning, then forget about it.

Most instructional strategies are not learnt by reading. They are learnt by doing over and over again, and by correcting mistakes along the way.

You might start with a very basic piece on blended learning or indulge in some Googling of blended learning. Then you must design and implement as quickly as possible. Letting it stew in the mind is not the same as serving it at the dinner table.

The harm of the over-cautious mindset has deeper roots. It is a disconnect with learning and the learner of today.

For example, consider how people learn to use mobile devices or play games. Most times they jump right in and do by trial and error or they get information just in time. They might consult the (very brief) manual, online forums, YouTube, or people around them for help.

They do not ask for a textbook. There are no textbook answers for practices that change all the time. There are no textbook answers for flexible mindsets.

 
A participant of my flipped learning course asked me a question in our shared online space.

Dr Tan, I want to ask what’s the difference between blended learning and flipped learning. Was googling and found this term. Is blended learning a part of flipped learning?

This was my reply.

Like flipped learning, blended learning (BL) is not just one thing. Typically BL is used to describe the combination of face-to-face (FTF) and online strategies.

Some people might consider flipping to be blended if there is one or more online activities outside of class and one or more FTF activities in class.

Some might consider BL to be what happens in class. For example, all of you have been working in groups these last few weeks and recording group notes in Padlet. The FTF and online components are seamless.

I favour the latter view of BL and that distinguishes flipping from BL somewhat. That said, the theoretical differences should not stop you from doing what works based on sound principles, good design, and critical reflection.

I should have added that the seamlessness comes from combining the two or more activities so that they are experienced as one logically integrated activity.

I get asked these questions all the time. Sometimes they get asked in the manner of a storm, other times it drizzles.

Just thinking out loud. I wonder if I should start a Q and A in this blog. Or might this be better suited for a CeL-Ed Monday series? Hmm.

I am pooped from conducting a workshop at NIE yesterday but looking for more “punishment” by conducting part two and three off site this week.

Here is what a video game-based learning workshop to teach self-directed, collaborative, and blended learning looks like.

And if you like pretty-looking things that might not have meaning for you, take a peek at my opening briefing. Slides created with Haiku Deck.


Slideshare source

In a previous entry, I mentioned how CeL was starting a blended learning series of professional development for teacher educators.BLCC

This is the title slide of the first of that series.

Tomorrow I am sharing what I do not usually do (lecture) and how I tried to blend it with more progressive strategies (backchannel, get/give feedback during a lecture).

After my “advertisement” (the WHY), the rest of CeL will show participants HOW to use Web 2.0 or Blackboard tools to try the strategies out.

Next week, CeL will show examples of blended learning strategies in NIE’s collaborative classrooms.


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