in Instructional design

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.

Make your content more accessible and flexible to you and your students

Usually your learning materials are in different formats and you put them online. Make sure you provide a clear and consistent arrangement of those materials so that your students will be able to find them easily and review them. Don’t just put the material online. This can be overwhelming for them. Tell them what you expect from them to do with this material.  In short, you should curate the content. I wrote about this in my previous post, where I presented steps of curation using a Learning map, so here I will just summarize the essence of preparing content for blended learning using a Learning map structure.

What material you usually include: digitized articles, book’s chapters, tutorials, demonstrations, video/audio presentations. The important part is to break all these learning materials into small bursts of reading, watching and listening. But don’t forget to show them how those bursts are connected to each other. With a Learning map this could be done easily – each node of a Learning map presents one burst, consists of a title, short explanation/summary, instructions and attached resource. Node’s numbers, arrows and colors show the connections between different parts.

Picture 1: An example of one burst

Picture 1: An example of one burst

Picture 2: An example of how bursts are connected

Picture 2: An example of how bursts are connected

Put one single link of a Learning map into your LMS or share it with your students in a way you prefer. Students can explore a Learning map from any device they want.

Picture 3: Two options for sharing a Learning map

Picture 3: Two options for sharing a Learning map

Plan student activities and collaboration

Besides listening, reading and watching the material, active engagement is vital for learning. It could be done through individual as well as collaborative activity. We have different tools available for that:  blog, wiki, discussion forums, quizzes, polls, etc.  I’m going to present those that can be used with a Learning map.

Discussion forum

In every Learning map you can include a discussion forum where students can discuss a topic or respond to a question regarding an article for example. You can ask them challenging questions about what they have learnt. Thus they have to think more critically. You can find more about using discussion forum inside the Learning map in this post .

Picture 4: An example of how forum is used inside a Learning map

Picture 4: An example of how forum is used inside a Learning map

Online quizzes

You can put a quiz wherever you want inside of a Learning map. You can put a short quiz on every single burst or you can create a quiz regarding the whole topic – the whole Learning map. Quizzes support integrating student’s new knowledge. Students can use them when it is convenient for them. How to prepare efficient quizzes? – you can find the answer here.

Picture 5: An example of a quiz included in a Learning map

Picture 5: An example of a quiz included in a Learning map

Picture 6: An example of a quiz question with feedback

Picture 6: An example of a quiz question with feedback

Collaborative virtual work

According to R. Ruth C. Clark and Richard E. Mayer virtual collaboration can lead to more reflection and sharing ideas than a face to face environment. Using Learning map as a collaborative tool, students can add, exchange, discuss ideas and information which they find relevant on the Learning map and complete it collaboratively. All of this can be done quickly and easily, because a Learning map gives student a whole view on one page at all times. All of that results in students’¬¬¬¬ direct engagement and motivation. You can find more about designing a collaborative virtual work using a Learning map in my post How to use technology to promote collaborative learning?

Picture 7: A screenshot of a collaboration work among students. Every student has its own color.

Picture 7: A screenshot of a collaboration work among students. Every student has its own color.

By using this approach you don’t need any special and expensive software. And you also don’t need any special knowledge. All you need is a little more time in the beginning, but don’t forget – everything you do is reusable in the future. So, what do you think? Do you find this approach of preparing lessons for blended learning complicated?””