Blended learning (twitter tag #iblc09 )

I’ve spent today at the 4th international blended learning conference at the University of Hertfordshire.

It’s been mix of interest and incomprehension. As a student a lot of the inferences may have passed overhead as I’ve no idea about the working ‘behind the scenes’ side to teaching and learning establishments, however I did learn enough today to wish that education was fully open source as some of the things used at different establishments would make for my ideal learning environment if combined.

What do I mean by that? well, my Java write up would have benefited from the learning object that Ken Fisher and Peter Chalk spoke about (which they said they would kindly send me the link to when I expressed interest) and had we used a group blog to prompt comment discussions as an integral part of the teaching then I can think of several other of my modules that may have benefited – research investigative methods not the least!

If I had enough expertise in a subject and the patience to deal with the behind the scenes bureaucracy then following this conference I’d be very tempted to become a teacher at the foundation degree level, just so that I could implement some of the ideas I’ve had and heard about utilising social media tools in the classroom.

The Elluminate link up sessions were impressive with delegates joining from several international locations and interacting with questions flowing from the floor, twitter and elluminate chat.. All of which *REALLY* make me want to justify the expense of a personal Elluminate license, but I can’t see me speaking to more than 2 folks at a time and do I need the record facility or just want it when I can simply use msn and save the conversation..?
So for now I guess I’ll be sticking to the free version *sigh*

In the pathways and outside there seems to be much talk about ‘invading the student space’ when talking about using things like facebook and I agree that it’s not the ideal learning space – what it is ideal for is an information channel.

Nobody wants to go to their favourite bar or club and see their boss or lecturer salivating at the thought of ramming something down their throat, what they don’t mind (see the distinction, they may not want it but they don’t mind it) if the same person gives them the heads up that in the ‘official’ channel is something of interest that they need to check out asap.

Students check into their uni vle as a rule only when needed, they check their social network on average 3 times a day (from observing my peers) this makes it an invaluable tool for lecturers needing to alert their class of important news.

An online learning environment is far more personal than heading into a classroom, you’re using your own equipment, your browser is configured ‘just so’ and you can have the working ambience you desire just by sitting in your own room. This gives a feeling of security that can be ripped away in a second by the tutor who does not understand the balance between personal and work. My feeling is that this is what tutors need to look at, once this balance is estblished then it will not be seen as ‘invading the student space’ but will become just another communication channel within the education system.

Now I’m just waiting to see what the next blended learning conference will bring – if google wave hits before then, things will be mii-iighty interesting as the academics struggle to catch up.

..I mean, sure they had tweets in the lectures but where was the communal wall showing off the interaction outside the auditorium in the public space? Methinks they need to speak to the social media mafia *grin* @audio and @vero could show ’em how it’s done!

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