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Scenario: “Two years ago, we were forced to work online with the implementation of emergency remote teaching and learning because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It seems that in many instances we may still be approaching our teaching practice in the same way without using any of the existing models of learning design for blended and online learning to inform our practice. How do we draw on current best practice and review how we design blended and online learning to promote active learning; and how we combine synchronous and asynchronous activities that encourage students’ engagement and learning?”

The scenario given above initiated a discussion on blended and online learning practicalities in our group PBL4. Anyhow, the recent pandemic situation urged all of us to adapt our teaching methods to an online form and we got used to it. Towards the end of the pandemic, the hybrid version of teaching practicalities applied, where some days lectures were held in class and some days they became online. But, what is blended learning? Clayton Christensen Institute [1] defines blended learning as “a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace; at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home; and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.

So, different from hybrid teaching, blended learning offers a combination of in-person meetings and broadcasting to others watching somewhere else. It seems that in this way teachers will need extensive pre-preparation and their role will be changed into more of a facilitator and less of an instructor. If you’re interested in blended learning, there is a nice short master thesis on it [2].

Even though blended learning is pretty new to all of us, as members of group PBL4, we got used to being involved in online learning for 2 years. Therefore, we wanted to share our expertise in online learning design. But before sharing our experiences, we initially formed it to find answers of 4 how as proposed in [3]:

  • how to incorporate flexibility by learners’ choice of organizing synchronous and asynchronous learning
  • how to stimulate interaction for collaboration
  • how to facilitate students’ learning processes
  • how to foster an effective learning climate

I was involved in two online courses during the pandemic and I had also a chance to try some online tools in one of our pedagogical courses. In online courses, it was typical lecturing style Zoom meetings but luckily students were active enough to write through chat and get involved via speaking. I deliberately spared some time for the lack of communication through online tools, where students were allowed to ask whatever they don’t understand freely. Furthermore, we employed a Slack channel, which was governed by teaching assistants. In one of our pedagogical courses, I tested the online quiz platform Kahoot! and I tried to employ a simulation environment, where students are experimenting in a group and actively learning the subject.

Recording the video lectures and not putting pressure on attendance provide flexibility to students. Surprisingly attendance was not decreased. Learning from an online simulation in a group was a great way to stimulate interaction for collaboration. I believe that Kahoot and the online simulator were nice tools to facilitate students’ learning process. Lastly, friendly Zoom meetings and most importantly Slack channels were essential to foster an effective learning climate.

Best practices: Feedback from the students show that some of them find the quiz style challenging and motivating, however, some think that understanding the system and focusing on the question was not easy.

Within the scope of these discussions, we use Padlet which you can reach from <here>. We also create a Canva presentation, which I highly recommend going through since all of our group members share their own experiences in terms of challenges they faced and the solutions they came up with. Canva presentation can be found <here>.

References

[1] – Christensen Institute. (2017). Blended learning definitions.

[2] – Rozeboom, A.M. (2017). Blended learning versus the traditional classroom model (Master’s thesis, Northwestern College, Orange City, IA).

[3] – Boelens, R., De Wever, B., & Voet, M. (2017). Four key challenges to the design of blended learning: A systematic literature review. Educational Research Review, 22, 1-18.

One Response to “Reflection on Design for online and blended learning”

  1. Oksana

    Excellent summary of the group work illustrates your sincere, wholehearted engagement and signifies your outstanding contribution to group learning. Thank you!

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