Thursday, 24 January 2013

Blended learning: Where to from here?

I have been in transition of late and therefore have not been publishing my ramblings recently. However, 2013 is a new year with a new job starting in March, in Singapore. More about this later.

In thinking about ongoing developments in technologies to support learning and teaching, it is clear that there are a wealth of opportunities, platforms, applications (apps) and resources.  So much so, that deciding what to use, which platform/device and what applications becomes almost overwhelming to any teacher who is tasked with so many other responsibilities to manage, including having a life. However, I'd like to share a quote from Tony Bates: 

Many of the platforms/ devices and applications now available are not panaceas for poor teaching, or saving money, but like all tools, they need to be used appropriately in order to be effective. With so many choices, here is my short list of criteria for choosing one application/ platform or device over another. The non-exhaustive list is:
  • what is the specific educational need(s) the application/platform/device will help address?
    • e.g., communication, content, process, practice, etc etc;
  • what are the limiting/supporting factors in your institutional context (context is vital!)?
    • e.g., will the infrastructure support what you intend to use (mobile bandwidth is a growing problem for many institutions);
    • e.g., where will you and your students receive help from (IT Help Desk?);
    • e.g., how will the application/device provide access and engagement and what training will be needed?;
    • e.g., do you already have access to something similar that is currently installed (the modern LMS has a huge variety of communication options, and some ePortfolios have social networking opportunities built-in (e.g., Mahara);
    • e.g., can the resource be installed onto University/student computers/tablets etc without significant costs/time?;
  • how easy is the resource/application to use and how much support will be needed?
  • will there be a significant change in teacher/student behaviour needed?
  • what is the 'management overhead' for managing the use of the application from a variety of viewpoints, institutional, pedagogical and at the individual teacher level (e.g., are passwords necessary, or is privacy an issue?)?
  • what will the impact on student and/or teacher workload be?
  • is what you propose compatible with institutional policies, equipment, infrastructure, policy (IP and privacy for example) and will management support what you propose?
  • and, not at least, will students be willing to engage and work in ways that make the process worth the effort?
The last is something I have found to be the easiest to solve by involving the students in the process and giving them opportunities to provide feedback and guide the process directly. The rest I leave up to the reader.

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