I was invited to join the ONL162 online networked course as a student, this was a privilege and a journey of discovery into what it really means to be a student in an online space. There are many research papers that look at the perspective of a student but few that were a student in the space that was being researched.
What is Blended Learning?
To really understand where to start, I would suggest that there needs to be a definition of the term blended learning, here are two contributions to a definition:
- The Christensen Institute (2015) adds that the student ‘also learns 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’.
- Bates (2015, p. 309) notes that blended learning embraces a wide variety of designs, among which he distinguishes:
- technology used as classroom aids (e.g. PowerPoint slides, clickers);
- using a learning management system to support classroom teaching (e.g. for storing learning materials or for online discussions);
- using lecture capture for flipped classrooms;
- sequencing semesters of residential study with semesters studying online;
- short periods on campus for hands-on experience or training followed by concentrated time studying online;
- hybrid or flexible learning requiring the redesign of teaching to enable students to do the majority of their learning online, coming to campus only for specific in-person sessions (e.g. laboratories) that cannot readily be done online.
Bates (2015, p. 311) posits a continuum of learning situations ranging from face-to-face instruction with no technology to fully online distance teaching. He applies the term blended learning to all combinations of technology with presence in a classroom between these extremes.
With the idea clearly mapped out the journey began. Reflecting on the skills developed over the course I would highlight that being in the position of a student for the first 3 topics, thereafter experiencing the process of an online course design was valuable. Personally, I have gained value insight and discovery of online learning to improve my engagement and to include the recent information found in completing my thesis.
Topic 1 was discovering and setting up all the technology platforms, defining collaboration processes and to identify where were as a PBL group were headed the design of a map with all the tools was a good strategy to start.
Topic 2 I’ve learned that a good way of presenting collective information in a space by using “Padlet”
Topic 3 was a venture into the challenges and developing solutions to online collaboration. Designing and working collaboratively with Prezi was a nice experience.
Topic 4 experiences were the most valuable and insightful, learning to design a course facing challenges and overcoming them towards achieving a tangible benefit of the topic.
In conclusion, through this journey I have had challenges and setbacks but nothing worth it is ever easy. Oxford professor, Geoffrey Chaucer’s could not have said it better in the 14th century: ‘and gladly would he learn and gladly teach’. I have learnt through shifts of perspectives a student, then to teacher and have gained invaluable knowledge and experience.