A surprising way of preparing a lesson for Blended learning

“”Why it seems that blended learning will become a number one trend in education in the next two years?  According to  NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition   blended approaches were most successful in ‘unbundling’ the classroom — students felt that instructors were more accessible when learning materials and discussion forums were placed online and there was altogether more persistent communication through the use of virtual learning environments”.

What drives to this? The expansion of social and multimedia use, for sure.  Students begin to rely more heavily on their mobile devices for accessing and participating in course activities. They are willing to contribute anywhere and anytime it is convenient for them. The second important fact why going blended is getting more practice time in class, which is a critical component for student success.

Blended learning stands for a variety of pedagogical approaches using multiple formats and instructional tools. In this post I will present a simple process of preparing lesson for blended learning using a Learning map. Learning map is a very simple tool that enables you to create a perfect blend of content/resources and student activities/collaboration for online purposes.

Teachers, are you doing content curation the right way?

“”“I don’t have time to develop materials for my students and why re-inventing the wheel if lots of learning materials are already available through different sources.”

You’re right. On the web there are about 127.000.000 results about Solar system, for example. There are videos, images, pdf, etc. So why would you create another resource about Solar system. Well the only reason I create something “new” is because, I want to help my students to get the information quicker, to understand the information, not just giving them a list of links, that they can’t make head nor tail of them. And besides that, I want to give them a feeling that the material is addressing them.

New technologies allows us to create beautiful multimedia lessons by searching and importing existing content from multiple sources  in one single place and share them with just one link. But here comes the most important part – how to put these contents together? Do we just gather links and perhaps content titles in a single place (see picture below) or do we curate the content?

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Content curation comes from bloggers and online publishers when they collect links, share brief extracts from the content, add their own commentary and publish everything in a blog post. I especially like this quote by Stephanie Buck “A curator ingests, analyzes and contextualizes web content and information of a particular nature onto a platform or into a format we can understand.” We could use the same philosophy when creating lessons using existing content. Let’s have a look at a simple example below, showing content curation by using a Learning map. Learning map is a perfect tool for creating interactive lessons with existing digital content.

Learning through smart phones – How to design?

We came into an era where mobile phones are not just for calling. They are much more. They’ve become an indispensable tool. A tool that we can’t live without – like eyeglasses for those with vision problems.

According to PewResearch, 90% of Americans use cell phones where 58% of them are smart phone users . They use mobile phones for text/SMS messaging (81%), accessing internet (60%), email (52%), apps (50%), location services (49%), music (48%). According to projection  the number of smart phone users will continue to grow (around  34% till 2018).

What about learning through smart phones?  Because of HTML5 technology and enhanced smart phones, learning through smart phones is in rise, but it still does not predominate. We usually enter the e-learning content through different devices; sometimes through desktop device, the other time through tablet or smart phone.

What does this mean? Do we have to design different versions for different devices or could we design once and deliver to multiple devices? Designing of one single version requires from us, that we have in mind specific features of mobile devices, especially smart phones.