Coach Carole Ramblings

Celtic, Mythical and More …

Blended elearning: new or old #change11


I have been doing considerable research – through the usual methods of RSS feeds and notifications that come to me via email, or in Scoop Its, Google Alerts or Pearltrees,- and I am finding that the concept of blended elearning popping up in different guises.

This posting piqued my interest and I thank the blogger Connie Malamed of the elearning Coach blog, for some provocative postings.

Thanks Connie for making me think a little deeper about the whole idea of ‘blended elearning’ with this section of your recent posting. So whilst I do wish to reply to Connie with my observations on the entire post, I wanted to focus on the blended elearning approach segment here in my own blog.

New Blended Learning

Blended or hybrid learning came about because one eLearning course is often not the solution to an organization’s or an individual’s learning needs. Until recently, blended referred to a learning experience that included both instructor-led and online self-paced components. But that was a long time ago in Internet Time.

Now that live synchronous instruction frequently occurs online and that opportunities for individualized learning abound, the definition of blended learning is expanding to include any number of strategies, from learning through a community of practice to mobile performance support. For example, someone might attend a workplace webinar on how people learn, then participate in a video-based Google+ hangout with a cognitive psychologist, and join a LinkedIn community of instructional designers to discuss the application of these ideas.

There is an obvious  advantage to this breadth of thinking—it better meets the needs of learners. It enables designers to think in unlimited terms about what makes an effective learning experience and to consider that learning is an ongoing process rather than a discrete one. See Expanding the Instructional Designer’s Role above.

Now it’s your turn. What trends are you observing? Comment below.

Meeting the needs of the learners is one half of the equation – matching the design and delivery style of the tutor is the other.

Today whilst conducting a workshop for teachers new to Moodle, it really became an important issue to focus on the  strengths, strategies and comfort zones of the teachers and then selecting the Moodle design process for their courses to complement that style.

Moodle mentoring will feature frequently in my roles this year and I have been giving the approach to training a great deal of thought and effort. I strongly believe that we need to ‘model’ a blended learning approach and be explicit about how all the pieces fit together for the teacher/learners as they experience the learning for themselves. One program I designed involved a simple blend of f2f workshops, any time discussions and frequent online workshops – giving the teacher/learners 12 hours of concentrated experience in designing blends for their own learers.

MOOC design is also featuring in my work role and I’m collaborating with a small team in designing a ‘managed open online course’ in googlesites that will enable ‘new’ e-learners to master essential e-skills before enrolling in any blended learning opportunities. So the question arises again, How to choose a blend to ‘‘better meet the needs of learners“? What will make effective learning experiences for these learners? How to enthuse and not confuse? How to empower and not disempower? How to support and encourage self-direction?

I’d be happy to hear from you about your suggestions. The first unit to be developed will provide learning opportunities for ‘communicating and networking online’.

What are the learner’s requirements for this essential eskill?

Author: coachcarole

Coach Carole is the name by which many of you will know me - in my role as coach and mentor for teachers, project teams and networks facilitators. I work independently as an elearning consultant for my business Macro Dimensions.

4 thoughts on “Blended elearning: new or old #change11

  1. Pingback: Blended elearning: new or old #change11 « Baranduda Blog | The eLearning Site

  2. Pingback: e-learning by leomartalay - Pearltrees

  3. Interesting blog. Thanks. There is no doubt learners need some time to learn to participate in an online culture. People who are not part of online culture find it very difficult to talk to a stranger, add comment into blogs and generally diarise, which is what we all do together. Maybe writing your own blog is a good beginning and then looking at and commenting on blogs of classmates. Forums are an easy foray into communicating online.

    For me, teaching online with very large cohorts, I think the challenge is to develop conversations where everyone still has room to participate. So if you asked a closed question, once the answer is given, the conversation is over. Asking questions generally can be limiting because there are a limited set of answers and once the first 10 or so folks answer, the conversation has nowhere to go. Open-ended questions – same thing. Maybe sharing experiences, telling their own stories etc is a neat way to begin. I use a range of my face-to-face strategies online, especially cooperative learning strategies and thinking skills strategies. They can work really well online and in large cohorts.

    So I guess learners like some structure and guidance, room for their experiences, want to feel like I am talking to them and they are talking to each other and so on. For me, like in a classroom, my online classroom is chaotic, responsive, goes with student interests and enables individual and group learning. I also like to be metacognitive about what we are doing, why I chose various pedagogical approaches and to get feedback about how my assumptions worked for them. Then I change and adapt as best I can. Its a comple question but good pedagogy and creative thinking underpin how things are designed and implemented.

    • Thanks Carole for your post, and Michelle for your comment.

      I started online University studies two years ago, and while I was a habitual surfer, it still took me some time to find the pathways and establish the most effective habits, so that I didn’t miss important information.

      Actually – the habits still need some work!! I am too easily distracted by the millions of shiny things on the Web!

      I like your comments regarding online discussion Michelle. It is always a challenge, and often a leap in confidence, to enter into a debate online. Building relationships and using humour, especially in small study groups, is important – but tricky without seeing people and having a sense of what is going to be ok … fear of offending someone, or making yourself look stupid, can hold people back from longer, more intense, discussions.

      Thanks again Carole and Michelle for sharing your thoughts!