Week 4 Reflection – #Blendkit2015

Ok, so this week is all about blended assessments and how the online and f2f environments are meant to intertwine in a blended learning course. This means that both environments should work towards a holistic experience rather than be separate and parallel entities.

While I was at the very beginning of the reading (meaning I was in the ‘Questions to Ponder’ section) I got an idea of a visual representation. Here it is:

This is a visual example of how the F2F and online environments could be integrated in the class and how they would work as one and not as two separate entities or environments.

Back to reflecting.

In this reflection I am going to answer a couple of questions from the ‘Questions to Ponder’ section of the reading also copy and paste some parts in the reading in quotes, bold and italics and insert my comments under them. Here goes. The course I am redesigning as blended is a professional development course in the Graduate School of Education.

  • In what experiences (direct or vicarious) will you have students participate during your blended learning course? Reflections (blog posts), interacting with peers and people in PLN and global learning community. 
  • Will there be a consistent pattern to the presentation of content, introduction of learning activities, student submission of assignments, and instructor feedback (formal and informal) in your blended learning course?No , I think it’s best to use a variety of ways to present content to relate to learner diversity. 
  • How can you ensure that students experience your course as one consistent whole rather than as two loosely connected learning environments? I think the visual diagram I included earlier demonstrates this  well. And also by always referring to the other environment in a way that the discussions we have (Whether online or f2f would build on the previous encounter they had together and have it in a very inter-dependent way that if someone misses one of these meetings or sessions they would feel they missed something)
  • How can specific technologies help you present content, provide meaningful experiences, and pitch integration to students in your blended course? With your planned technology use, are you stretching yourself, biting off more than you can chew, or just maintaining the status quo? I would use Diigo for reading and annotating to be shared with group for content discussion and to be used to discuss in class. Another tech I would use if WordPress for reflective blogging on being involved in the global learning community. These reflections will be used to build on in the online and f2f environments simultaneously. I don’t think it;s biting off more than I can chew because it will only be these two and also Twitter for being involved in the online and global learning community. 

 

“More online tools emerge every day, it seems, and with them come new opportunities for students to perform activities related to the learning objectives and for us to assess student performance (p. 241).”

It IS however very important to focus only one a few tools that benefit and serve the course learning outcomes and what the instructor wants to achieve rather than using more and , biting off more than students and instructor can chew, which could very likely end up confusing them and not achieve the learning outcomes that well.

“The project’s participants emphasized this point repeatedly. When asked, ‘What would I do differently?’ they were united in their response: ‘I’d devote more attention to integrating what was going on in the classroom with the online work.’ This was true even though the project’s faculty development sessions repeatedly emphasized the importance of connecting in-class material with out-of-class assignments. One instructor responded emphatically, ‘Integrate online with face-to-face, so there aren’t two separate courses.’ We found it impossible to stress integrating face-to-face and online learning too much (Lesson #4 section, para 2).”

This is one thing that we are trying to do at the blended learning workshop series (of 3 weeks – 6 f2f meetings with online interaction in between) our center is giving to professors this semester. This workshop is about blended d learning and given in a blended mode as well. Anyway, this is what we are trying to do, where we ask them to do things online/at home that we could build on in the f2f sessions but they simply do not do them. And we understand its because they are too busy with their courses and students but because we do understand this, we make the online activities very minimal and quite easy by apparently it’s just not working as well as we’d like it to be. so it ends up with us not being able to really integrate because if we discuss online material in the f2f setting, some people don’t follow the discussion because they haven’t done the OL portion and so don’t really know what the rest of us are talking about.

I absolutely love Table 2 about the learning activity types  with technology-integration ideas. I know most of these technologies but it’s great to see a visual like this of them put clearly into a table with their best ways to be used. Most of these tools could be used for almost everything but the most important things is to choose the tools and techniques that support the instructor’s pedagogical purpose. I’m considering including this table in the resources for the blended learning workshop I talked about earlier. Since we already included the Instructor’s toolkit (explained below) this would be very relevant and quite beneficial for the workshop attendees. Will run it by colleagues 🙂

I would add these tools to the table:

in the Adaptive: Educational games designed by instructor and/or students

in the Communicative: Realtime board, Twitter, Voicethread, Mediathread,  Google Docs. There is also this Instructor’s toolkit that a couple of colleagues of mine at the Center for Learning and Teaching designed. This basically has a lot of tools and what their best uses are.

in the Productive: Gingko

in the Experimental: Twitter. I know this sounds crazy but speaking of scavenger hunts, my colleague used Twitter for a scavenger hunt in her class and her students absolutely loved the idea. Here’s her blog post explaining how she used it.

That’s it for now. Gotta go but will post week 5 refelctions pretty soon, since the MOOC is almost over now.

Cheers

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