- Reflection on my current practice and reason about possibilities for development of online and blended learning designs:
In addition to lecturing at my current institution, I am also contracted to develop module guides and assesments, both formative and summative. The one module I develop has a Portfolio of Evidence serving as summative assessment. Looking at the purpose of the POE, which is to serve as testimony and showcase student’s knowledge and understanding of the concepts they learned about, I see the possibility of incorporating the use of a blog, rather than a hard copy submission of the POE only. With this blog students can really showcase their talent, not only to the lecturers for a summative mark, but also to the world. This can be viewed by prospective employers who will bear witness to the student’s understanding and capabilities rather than just seeing a CV. By then opening up the blog for others to comment on, students can improve on their current way of doing and the process of continuous learning is ignited.
I have found that a lot of my learners are visual learners and love seeing their contributions made in class fit in somewhere, being part of something. During the ONL course, I was introduced to Padlet. It was fun adding my thoughts and seeing how everything came together. I can definitely make use of Padlet in some of my classes, allowing students to add their thoughts, as Popplets, giving, even the silent learner the opportunity to contribute and giving all learners the opportunity to see the bigger picture, enabling them to reflect on what they have learned.
- Reflection on how I can provide better support and scaffolding to students in online and blended learning environments:
Constructive alignment comes into play here. Having been involved in discussions around constructive alignment, has reiterated the importance of proper planning and an early focus on what do I want the student to know/ understand/ do and early on identify activities that are best suited to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skill development. By consciously applying constructive alignment to my lesson plans, I am in a better position to scaffold the learning process for my students in class. One of my modules deal with the theoretical basis of programming. I introduce the concept in very simple terms, this introduction is followed by a small exercise where students get to apply the concept to a very simple scenario. I keep it simple and watch the responses as students find their feet first. Once they have found their feet and they appear comfortable, I start building elements into the scenario, again followed by an exercise in integrating the concept into their first solution. This continues until students have a complete picture of the what and the how. I then build a bridge to their practical module by helping them understand how the solution they have just designed can be implemented using the programming language they are currently learning to master. Students often compartmentalize their knowledge and when they do that, they seize to understand the purpose of what they are learning and as a result lose interest, setting themselves up for failure. I help them integrate the various modules to the best of my ability through appropriate activities. ONL has really driven home the importance of constructive alignment. I have always tried to implement this, but since I have been part of this group, I have tried even harder.
- Are there opportunities for further development in this area, that you have identified as a result of your own experiences as a learner in the ONL course and of your engagement in this topic?
I will never forget my first year Systems Analysis and Design lecturer’s words “When you get to the point where you think your system is perfect and that you are done….you are not doing your job”. I believe that this is also true for education, educational practices and blended learning. An article I recently read in preparation for this topic mentioned the importance of involving students more in evaluating the approaches taken to ensure that, not only, one achieve a balanced blend but to keep on informing your practices in the classroom and online. This implies that educational design is an iterative approach and since no group of students are the same as the next, there is always room for improvement…you can never be done….and if you think you are….are you doing your job or are you just a parrot regurgitating lessons from Christmas past? I therefore believe, that room for improvement lies in providing more room for students to evaluate teaching and learning and emphasizing the employment of student feedback to inform teaching and learning practices.