Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beginning of BlendKit 2012

Last year, for me anyway, the major pondering point of the year was MOOC pedagogy. Between cMOOCs and xMOOCs I've seen, and I am now still experiencing a lot of different deliveries, technologies, interactions, and I've been pondering their underlying pedagogies, and what makes them work!

While I am still thinking about MOOC pedagogies, I have out that pot on thwack burner to slowly simmer and I've decided that fall semester is going to be about the blended mode of delivery. To this extent, I am taking the series of 3 Sloan-C workshops on blended learning to see what their experts say on the topic, and I am following BlendKit2012 out of UCF. This week is the final week of the first Sloan-C workshop, and the beginning of BlendKit. I've already submitted my blended learning module to the workshop coordinators, so it's time to deal a little with BlendKit.

The reading in week 1 is interesting. As someone with a masters degree in instructional design, and with some experience blending this stuff isn't new to me (in neither the workshop nor the MOOC) but I want to see what SMEs say and what my peers are up to, after all, aha moments strike when you are seeing what others do and when you interact with them, ponder on their issues, and th your issues also come into focus.

That being said, one of the topics that I would like to tackle is the blend, and the institutional organization. In blendkit (and Sloan) a blended course is defined as being and on-campus course with 30-70% of the work in an online manner. Of course the blend may vary (in my view) to between 10-90%. There are two sticky issues, as far as blended courses go, that need addressing. Both have to do with the administrative and support efficacy of th course as the course relates to proper learning design.

A good blended course isn't designed with certain ore-determined days of th semester as being online (in other words not face to face), but rather it is designed with th content to be learned in mind, and, depending on the flexibility of th learners, it is dynamic based on how the course proceeds and the needs of the course. This is a problem administratively and resource-wise because in order to do a proper blended course you need to have a room booked on campus just in case it is needed. Also, if it's not needed, it would be rather hard to find a complementary blended course (let' call it Blended-B) that would use the classroom space on days that Blended-A will be online.

The second issue is that of institutions (like mine) that have established online programs. When you are a on-campus-only program, blending is actually pretty nifty. When students have the option of online OR on-campus, adding a blended mode is tough because then you have to either drop the on-campus option, and do Blended and Online courses, OR you have to add a third modality (blended, online, on-campus). At which point it becomes an enrollment issue trying to keep track of enrollments in the same course in 3 different modalities. ato address one of the seed questions this week (Is it most helpful to think of blended learning as an online enhancement to a face-to-face learning environment, a face-to-face enhancement to an online learning environment, or as something else entirely?), I think that going from on-campus to blended is easier than thinking of an online course going to blended. The main issue with online is geography, if x-many sessions are in person, and y% (majority) of students cannot attend due to geographic limitations, is it worth having an in person session when most will be absent? This is why I like th HyFlex Model. For me it makes sense to drop both on-campus only and online-only modes and adopt HyFlex. But then again, I am a radical ;-)


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