Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Doing IT Differently - G: Blended Learning

What will be different at HC in 2008?

G: Blended Learning

Blended Learning involves the use of multiple learning environments - usually some combination of physical/face-to-face and online/virtual approaches.

Over the last few years we have gradually expanded our use of online/virtual technologies for learning, teaching and assessment - both in the range of technologies and the number of students involved (see below).

Our range of physical/face-to-face approaches has also expanded over the same period to include team teaching, coaching/mentoring, workplaces, simulated work environments, open/flexible learning, regional annexes and others.

HC students and teachers in the virtual world Skoolaborate - 2007

In 2008 we will attempt to provide more seamless physical/online blended learning environments for all computing students (and several other courses) 24/7 whether they are on campus, at home or even in some workplaces. These environments will involve the following:

  • A formal online environment where the class can store and share documents, discuss topics, pose questions and collaborate. We will use Moodle and ELGG services hosted off-campus and MS SharePoint Portal hosted on-campus.
  • Presence and communication where students and teachers can be seen to be online and exchange information and files 24/7 as required. MS Office Communicator will be mandatory for all computing students. Other systems commonly used by students are Live Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook/Myspace, SMS... (Email is infrequently used for communication by the majority of students.)
  • Virtual worlds where students and teachers can meet, complete tasks and create through personalised avatars in persistent online environments. We will expand our use of Skoolaborate and we also want to rent some education space for teachers to meet interested parents.
  • Game worlds where students can roleplay, complete tasks and create new environments. We will expand our use of Neverwinter Nights begun in 2007 - and also our use of serious games such as PeaceMaker also trialled in 2007..
  • Mobile Learning where students use mobile phones, game consoles, MP3 players and laptops to engage with course materials on and off campus.
  • Mobile Desktop and RSS where students can integrate their online identities and interactions - educational and social - in a one-stop-shop. We will promote Google Desktop and Facebook although students may choose another service.
  • Networked Learning where students connect - and hopefully engage - with professional communities of practise in their learning area. We will promote the Bloglines and Google Reader aggregation services although students can also bring RSS feeds back to Moodle, ELGG or even Facebook.

Previous - F: Conceptual Frameworks Next - G: What's Missing?

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At 4:46 PM, Anonymous koAlex said...

My response to Roger Stack’s Blog:
I absolutely agree with what Roger talked about, however, I become a bit wary when technology becomes too fun… By that I mean that i’m wary of gameworlds where students can play. Personally, I believe that blended learning is an excellent way to help students learn, and it makes everything easier for each student; being presented with material in different contexts. For example, in my entry level Biology 197 course, the professor used a voice recorder to electronically record his lectures, and post them on his website afterwards. I found this extremely helpful because at home, I could re-listen to a particular lecture, and read his powerpoint lecture simultaneously. However, there are exceptions to my “anti-game world” stance. For example, my high school biology teacher used a video game to illustrate ww2 troop tactics, and troop equipment such as gas masks, weaponry, and trench conditions. I found that this gave me a more interactive experience when learning about ww2. That being said, I don’t think that “game worlds” would be entirely appropriate for a decent number of subjects. I just believe in the students being able to access the same information in diverse ways; through discussion boards, through recorded audio files, on AIM or skype, etc. Students should be able to learn without getting distracted from their learning objectives.

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Roger said...

I agree koalex - the learning environment should help students achieve the designated learning outcomes for the course. Most of the work computing students have done so far in games such as NWN has been related to set and character design, programming, problem solving, team work... English students focused more on  character development and digital story telling in machinima created in NWN.In 2008 some of our psychology students will look at gender roles and identity using avatars...While playfulness and creativity are also desired outcomes we need to structure and facilitate those learning experiences carefully.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous fredricksont said...

I am a college student preparing to be a teacher. I have grown as technology has grown so I have been able to follow right along with it. What I find, however, is that many teacher;s feel more comfortable staying away from it. I have several online classes. They are extremely impersonal and unfortunately very boring. When learning is fun, students get more out of it no matter the learning style. I hadn't even thought of using a virtual world as a platform for teaching. The thought of creating one's own avatar and hanging out with the class in a virual world is so exciting. Not only can a person be in the comfort of their own home and feel free to participate without embarassment, but in a way, people can look at each other and communicate almost exactly as though they are a person with hand gestures, etc. I understand what koalex is saying about the "not having too much fun" but it is of utmost importance that a balance be held. Technology can be used to enhance any sunject these days, and people need to take advantage of it!


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