Thursday, September 27, 2012

Back with Random Thoughts #blendkit2012

So, I haven't blogged for 18 months, but I am resurrecting the ole blog as I take part in an online course on blended learning.

I have been interested in the rise of interactive ICT, from blogs to social media, skype, googledocs...everytime I nosey around online I find more exciting possibilities for changing up the way I perceive my role as a teacher, both at home within the family and in the classroom.

Blended learning is where a portion of the traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by web-based online learning. I learn online as my primary medium of instruction most of the time these days. I am involved in distance learning through Massey University. If I want to know what that actor has been in I go to IMDB. As an adult I can usually manage the pitfalls of the internet...too much apartment therapy, not enough journal searches...hmmm...well, maybe not always.

However, as it pertains to educating the next generation, it would be foolish to say to our children, "Here's the internet, go learn what you need/want to know." and leave them to it without guidance and forethought. We would be equally as foolish to deny that our children are growing up in a different learning culture than we did. TThat is why I am keen to learn more about blended learning and how I can apply it to topics of study in the Primary (Elementary) classroom.

There is evidence at tertiary level of the success of blended learning approaches, where students have better outcomes from blended learning courses than face-to-face alone, or purely online. We still need the human factor, however the advantage of 24 hour access, the ability to connect with experts or each other over distance and time, and the range of modalities really just add so much scope and possibility to the whole learning process.

I plan to hunt around to see if I can find research and examples of blended learning at the pimary school level (ages 6-11) as ths is my area of expertise in education. I think my main priority is not to try and think that i have to come up with some super dooper amazing blended course right off the bat. Utilising the things I am familiar with and taking them to a different level or from a different perspective is my aim for this course.

Note to self:
"Blended learning is not simply adding an online component to a face-to-face course. Technology in a course should be used wisely – to facilitate student learning. Technology should not be used just to show off technology. Excellent opportunities exist for teachers to make learning interactive, dynamic, and fun when used properly. The technology aspect of a lesson should be like a good baseball umpire – it (like the umpire) is good if it (he) goes unnoticed.

“Since the intent of blended learning is to enhance learning by combining the best of both worlds…elements of the outline that appear to lend themselves to self-study online should be highlighted. Such elements tend to include easy-to-interpret, straightforward information that is relatively easy for the (student) to accurately grasp on his/her own.” (Troha, 2003) Students should be able to perform required tasks online with little or no prompting by the instructor. Of course, teachers should guide their students along, but when a student can accomplish a task online with limited assistance, that student encounters a learning experience that is deeper and more rewarding." LINK TO SOURCE

Finally, the whole blended learning/flipped classroom type approach just makes me so excited, because there is so much potential for learner driven study, inquiry learning, self regulation and fun!

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