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Lifelong Learning Centre

What is blended learning?

Posted on Friday, 05 June 2015 at 2pm
by Lifelong Learning Centre Staff.
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The following blog post is a collaboration between two members of Lifelong Learning Centre teaching staff, Felix Janeway and Beccy Stirrup

In its Blended Learning Strategy, the University of Leeds defines blended learning as ‘‘the considered, complementary use of face-to-face teaching, technology, online tools and resources to enhance student education.”

This definition emphasises the value of having face-to-face, adaptable and responsive teaching as part of the learning experience. Instead of focusing on technology, it gives a name to something that we, as teachers, already inherently know. As Freeman (2013) argues, straightforward lecturing does not convey information well – instead you have to provide a range of experiences of which traditional lecturing only forms a small part.

During the design of a module we all ‘in build’ blended learning experiences with the aim of giving students the opportunity to analyse, interpret and apply the knowledge we have asked them to attain from different angles.

Some would also describe blended learning as designing a set of experiences which will appeal to all types of learners. This is essentially no different to the University’s definition, and could be used by each of us as a reasonable checklist to assess and analyse the degree of ‘blend’ to our teaching.

Technology can automate complex and simple tasks if we know what we want. We can collect and instantly process information from students using Google forms. We can increase interactivity within a teaching scenario and capture information about how well the class is understanding the material in real time. We can set up systems for simplified marking which do not rely on simple multiple choice questions. We can help students to learn in their own environments and at their own pace. In short, technological use in the classroom should empower the teacher as well as the students.

Like a chef composing a varied meal of courses, textures and tastes, we must also provide variety to avoid rote learning and instil passion for learning in our students. Like all chefs we need training to do it competently.

Therefore, this year the LLC’s Blended Learning Group is focusing on upskilling. We will be looking for tutors to share their own skills in learning forums and, where appropriate, in longer workshops and lectures. We will be looking to capture the training so that everyone who wants to can take part, even if their schedule is busy at the time. We will also be looking to curate the current VLE blended learning space and create a coherent resource which can help programme leaders direct staff, and staff to direct themselves, to resources which enhance skills and help initiate new teaching staff to the LLC way of thinking.

Categories: Learning and Teaching