venerdì 13 novembre 2015

Blended Learning - Week 1 and 2 a Mooc run by FutureLearn November 2015

Week 1 and Week 2  My personal reflections on  Blended Learning
                                           Week 1
What is   Blended Learning?

Blended Learning.

From Visually.

The platform   Futurelearn  started an interesting MOOC about  Blended Learning on 2nd November. The course has been planned with five modules, one for each week and it is being followed by a growing number of people. The course will be followed by a second Mooc Blended Learning Essentials: Embedding Practice which begins on 1st February 2016.
I had already done some Moocs about  Blended Learning in the past but I wanted to see what is going on. I could not start the course on the first days but I tried to catch up because I am a teacher who wants to continue learning and I love the opportuninity of studying online and learning from the others.
These are my reflections and  I am also providing interesting weblinks which I think are worth checking. 
I have done most of the activities in the first two weeks and  I have found interesting ideas, links about the best ways for working with Blended Learning.
We have been provided with interesting videos, weblinks and we are now sharing ideas about the best ways we can work by using  digital tools.

An interesting part of the course is this Glossar, we can add new words in relationship to the topic but I think that the first term is the  definition of  Blended Learning:

 Blended learning is an approach to facilitating a course in which parts of the course are facilitated ‘face to face’ in a brick and mortar environment and other parts are facilitated online with learners controlling time / place and pace they will study these parts of the course.

I have always associated the term to Flipped Lessons: it is also flipping lessons but I have seen how it can be used in many vocational courses and I think  it is a great way for proving courses to people who need to work online and study while they are working. 

From the same index I just checked what students had added, the definition for flipping lessons or learning is very simple:

teaching method where materials and themes are watched, read or researched before contact time and students come prepared with questions and discussion points.

In some ways I have already done some flipping lessons: I have asked my students of English to watch some videos or some presentations online at home and what we did in the next days was a discussion or a reflection about the themes/issues and topics presented online.  I must admit that I had chosen to ask them to work at home because at school we did not have a good internet access and also for discussions I had to ask them to watch again the videos and sometimes we did it while they were watching their smartphones because we had no internet in the classroom.
But I also liked the idea of " flipping" the students' learning because I wanted them to work on  their own and think more about what they had just seen.

Why is it important to use new tools and  learn in a digitalized 
environment?  If you check the  article
 about the many reasons for choosing this way you will find the following points:
- digital teaching helps you to reach new learners
- the learning experience online  can be more engaging
- digital capabilities are important for our students who need to look for a job but also for teachers who can continue learning
- digital technology is essential for supporting professional development
- "digital technologies can actually support your organisation in becoming more sustainable and prosperous. Digital delivery of the curriculum can be used to counteract low class numbers and attract more learners, such as supporting distance learning, particularly in rural areas."
The following links provide you  with videos about  some examples of  Blended  Learning :

Why should have blended learning?   These are some ideas presented in Week1 :
  • To enrich the classroom experience to bring in more kinds of active learning
  • To make use of existing digital resources to enhance the learning activity
  • To use online learning for learners to prepare themselves for work in class or on site so they can use that time more productively
  • To use online learning to support them in following up on what they did in practice
  • To make it easier for learners to study flexibly alongside work, enabling them to be much more time efficient

I would add that in the post-industrialized society, in a world where technology is changing our way of working, learning and living   Blended Learning is now a  " must" : in most activities we rely now on technological devices  and technology and internet are shaping our way of living.  The educators and teachers must be aware of it.


After doing week 1 I just checked online and found this interesting article for teachers of English

They suggested these tools for  TELF/ESL teaching:

Ed Ted Allows you to add quizzes and questions to YouTube videos

This is a great tool and I have already used some lessons online.

MyBrainShark. A video that shows you how to use and access MyBrainShark

This is a LMS  and  it is in the cloud but it is expensive see :

Present.Me A video that shows you how to use and find Present.Me. You can make videos to be shared and embedded too.
Available at          It is not a  free subscription but you can pay also for one month.

SnagIt.   It is an image and video screen capture.  It is not free.
A video that  shows you how to use and access SnagIt

This is the padlet where teachers shared their ideas about  Blended learning:

                            Interesting Webtools 
We were able to learn about new webtools too, some teachers shared ideas about devices and provided links:  for  generating references

A teacher shared her presentation about   Edmodo - a safe learning environment which I also know:

Useful website for searching  Web tools: 
This is the most interesting weblinks which provides real help to people who do not know much about  webtools.

This is a great weblink for my personal learning growth.

                                               Week 2

We have  seen some good examples based on different  approaches constructivism, social constructivism and problem-based learning:  the following  links will provide you with the videos we  saw.

What I liked was the level of engagement of the learners : they were working, doing something and it was meaningful.

The tools used were  

  1.  Nearpod
  2. Google Classroom e-learning platform 

We  were presented with ideas and information  about   digital literacy  skills .
The concept of  digital skills is not new to me  because  I have done a MOOC  about this  topic  recently  and I must confess that  these skills are really the ones we should all have , our students must be able to work by using the new technology and also know about the main issues and problems online.

The importance of Digital Literacy Skills

What I am going to do is to analyze these important weblinks which are all new to me :

Educators need to know more and when teaching we have to be aware of the problems of  safety and privacy, but our  students have been online for years now and maybe they still need to learn about such issues.

Embedding Blended  Learning may  require a lot of time and the experiences shown make me reflect : a good school need to work on the skills of the teachers, on the learning environment and planning such new approach must be shared.  This would not always be possible in some schools.  As regards me  I have tried to embed Blended Learning by choosing to use modern tools and by using blogs and websites where I embed some activities for my students. 

Here are the links for the experiences presented in the course:

They must have worked hard and working on case-studies is the best way we could work at school and in further education.
I think that it will take time but we can make progress: blended learning can help us offer better learning that takes into consideratin the flexibility of learning and also the differences among our students.

Finally, I would like to thank all the teachers in the course who are sharing ideas, experiences and more. That's the best way for learning and improving our teaching methodologies and learning about  new digital skills and  digital tools.

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