BlendKit 2016

Today I started working on my UCF BlendKit course (yes, I did procrastinate a few days, but I’m busy!), which is all about blended learning.  Our first reading is all about understanding blended learning. I’ve taught sort-of blended learning courses (where much of the work is online, but we still meet face-to-face), and fully blended learning courses (where students do some work in the class and some work off campus on their own time), so blended learning is pretty interesting to me.  But, I also know I have a lot to learn.

5 Key Ingredients of Blended Learning

According to our readings, there are 5 key ingredients to blended learning:

  • Live events (like chats and Skype sessions, or Google Hangouts)
  • Self-paced learning
  • Collaboration
  • Assessment
  • Support Materials

Four of these I am totally comfortable with.  But live events are my nemesis, or maybe my Achilles’ heel.  They’re one thing I definitely need to incorporate into my courses when I do true blending. Hopefully, I’ll learn a bit more about how to make this work as the course continues.

By recognizing learning as a messy, nebulous, informal, chaotic process, we need to rethink how we design our instruction.

(George Siemens)

Content Application is King

It’s easy with blended learning, for the focus to be on “delivering” learning or on the technology  used to “cover” course content.  However, just like in any learning situation, it’s all about the end goal.  What do you want students to DO (and in the process, what do they have to know)?  How you get to the learning and doing is the icing.  Granted, bad design impedes learning, so it’s not an optional if-I-have-time kind of thing, but ultimately the point must be to apply the content they have learned.  Since each student is different, the course will need a lot of adapting as it goes on, and that does require effort.  In the end, though, the results pay off.

** I do need to interject here and note that while content is critical, my assumptions is that content is not just dutifully memorized, regurgitated, and forgotten.  My assumption is that in the process of learning about something, students will also be applying their learning.  Just saying.

My Goals

As much as I do with online learning (I love Canvas), I want to continue to find ways to blend online and offline, to make my courses interactive and interesting, and to incorporate ways to connect with student (and better yet, to connect students to the content and concepts so they can APPLY what they’re learning).  Education and technology is constantly changing, and this is why I don’t think I could ever teach something the same way twice.  I’m very interested to see the impact of this course on next year’s planning and course production.

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