Blended Learning or Connected Learning?

Blended learning has been in place in course design for some years. In my opinion, it means a mode of learning that mixes up with various means such as face-to-face and online approaches. But to some extent, the idea of ‘blended’ here is not the learning process, it is in fact the ways of communication between the teacher (or instructors, or facilitators) and the students. So some eventually called this mode blended design in learning, which is more appropriate.  Blended design in learning means a combination of instructional designs.

No one nowadays thinks face-to-face or attending lectures is adequate in a course or unit of study. This is usually accompanied by discussion forum, virtual classroom or online chatroom. Discussion forum is an effective way to enable communications among the students and the instructors.  I always find it very helpful by learning from the ways of question and answer in a forum. I have learnt to modify my current WordPress theme designed by Elegant Themes this way. If I find something need to ask, I will post up my own enquiry.

This is an open world and the students may not learn by attending your lectures in the classroom. Learning is an interactive process. As an instructor, you need to take heed to get feedback from students frequently.  Student engagement is vital. If an instructor does nothing in response to the students’ question and wait till the end of the course, the feedback will become a complaint. The complaints are mostly devastating.

Planning is most crucial and vital to the success of a course at the beginning. After preparing the course materials, the instructors decide the mode of delivery, then followed by assessment finally . In my current experience in attending a Coursera course E-learning and Digital Cultures, I am amazed by the flood of email notifications in my email box after posting a reply in the discussion forum. Every participant is so keen in responding to the Weekly resources. Although there may be repetitions and similarities in the replies posted in the forums, they are provoking further thoughts and enriching the discussion.

The course is now in Week 3.  In the first two weeks, I have been sparing time to fully watch all the online resources in videos.  That reminds me a good internet connection is vital to the learners. Without an acceptable internet connection, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is almost impossible. Technology plays an important role in the delivery. The learners are of course no ordinary learners. At least you have to be skilled in some computer basics. We are also asked to use social media to tag our responses on Twitter or later post an artefact on Flickr.

The learner path is changing rapidly. A MOOC is a big powerful wave to revolutionise the way of teaching and learning. I have no idea of how many learners in this Coursera course but I hold an utopian view to eLearning. From the number of responses of the forum posts, I am sure there must be thousands of learners or more, some active and some inactive. This is connected learning because the learners care about what they learn and willing to share with the others.

After all, I am delighted to be an ordinary learner to put my toes in the water of connected learning. I wish I could post more thoughts in due course.

Featured image: The balcony. Summicron-M 50 mm, ISO400, f4.8, 1/15 sec

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