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What is blended learning? [rev.]

March 4, 2017

Mason Jar Smoothie (#2688)Blended Learning describes a course where part of the face time requirement has been moved online. For example, instead of meeting three days a week in a classroom, one class period is replaced with online activity. The type of activity is up to the instructor.

When an institution is strapped for classroom space, this arrangement can make scheduling easier. For students who are commuting long distances or working full-time jobs it can be very convenient. One benefit for faculty is that the act of designing a blended course is an opportunity to infuse newer, more effective strategies.

I know of a class that meets four days a week and the department believes they are losing students due to scheduling conflicts. They are considering a blended format so the class only competes with three-day classes, ergo fewer conflicts.

I worry that faculty members and administrators with no online learning experience will make this change and simply assign students an extra hour of busy work. That shouldn’t happen, though. Many institutions have instructional designers who can work closely with faculty to develop learning experiences that effectively maximize face-to-face interaction time.

In the first week of the BlendKit MOOC I am becoming more familiar with blended learning. BlendKit itself is fully online, though, and my most useful takeaway this week has been greater sympathy for folks who struggle to navigate a rich online learning environment. The course website offers an awful lot of resources and opportunities — it’s taking time to learn my way around!

[image credit -“Mason Jar Smoothie (#2688)” by regan76]

BlendKit 2017 launches

March 1, 2017

blendkit course banner

Since 2011, the University of Central Florida has offered “BlendKit,” a free six-week online course for folks who want to learn more about blended learning. The 2017 edition launched on Monday, but there’s plenty of time to enroll. The first of five live webinars will be Monday, March 6 at 1:00 pm Eastern (US) time. In the meantime, you can prepare by working on orientation activities and other assignments.

The organizers know that not everyone who signs up plans to finish all components of the course. They welcome everyone from lurkers to auditors to active participants, and “completers.” Badges are used to recognize completion of different types of activity, including assessment, design, and content. All course materials are freely available on an open website called the Blended Learning Toolkit.

blended learning toolkit screen

I have heard great things about BlendKit, so this year I decided to enroll. I’ve begun to familiarize myself with the layout of the course and so far I’m amazed with the thoroughness and attention to detail. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my reactions and experiences. I’m pretty confident that you would find BlendKit rewarding, too, so here’s a signup button if you want to join me:

Enroll in the 2017 BlendKit MOOC

Three tech trends for higher ed in 2017

February 28, 2017

no2017Every January brings predictions about trends that will dominate the headlines in the coming year. This article is my biased attempt at identifying a consensus among.

To help keep you from feeling left out of conversations around the water cooler, each trend is defined and includes a short bibliography.

Click to learn about the trends

The new Google Sites

February 20, 2017

Google Sites went through a MAJOR upgrade recently and a new version was released in November 2016. Gone are the ugly, old-school pages. You can arrange things into columns, drag and drop, and incorporate all kinds of elements. See TechRepublic’s article 5 key features of the new Google Sites for some of the highlights. Watch the two videos below for a quick tutorial and a deeper dive:

The above videos from the EduFlip website were produced by Sethi De Clercq of St. Andrews International School in Thailand.

Add your video to Google Slides

February 17, 2017

I have been encouraging people to consider using Google Slides, but one caveat was that you could only insert video from YouTube. On February 8 of this year, Google announced that users of Google Slides can now embed a video saved in Google Drive into a slide. The video below from Practical Ed Tech explains how it works.