“Whether self-directed and initiated (Mitra, 2007) or aided through advance consideration of design (darken and silber, 1996: Asbell-Clark et al., 2012), it is clear that many learning objectives can be achieved without direct guidance.”
This quote , taken from week 2 reading of the Blendkit 2014 MOOC, grabbed my attention immediately and prompted a pause in my thinking and the role blended learning course design has in supporting this statement. And so the question that arose for me was, if this is true then what are those objectives and how do you design effectively knowing this?
The reading focuses on building interaction in a blended course and how building interaction brings together the power of technology in learning and human interaction in learning. The challenge is designing to meet the need for interaction both online and f2f. This reading offered a couple main things to consider when in this phase of Blended learning design:
- Keep interaction in front of your mind when designing
- Consider how will learners know what they need to know?
- Consider how will learners make sense of the course information given the fragmented nature and distribution of blended learning course information when compared to the structure and organization of a traditional textbook.
Interactions can be incorporated in both the online and F2F components of instruction with the intention to allow for student expression. These expressions can be student-to-student, student-to instructor, and student-to-content. Either way, when designing these interactions you want to consider the best method or activity for the students to achieve the course learning objectives through interaction. And as the instructor, if designing with this intention, you should be able to offer feedback and identify gaps and growth in learning and understanding through those interactions.
As many of us know, these interactions can be everything from discussion forums (online or F2F), wikis, blogs, reflections, ect…For me, it is easy to get caught up in thinking only about how those interactions are tied to achieving the learning objectives and not stop to consider how good interactions create that “community” within your course. This article did a nice job giving me that new way of thinking about interactions and reminding me that interactions are not just about meeting objectives but also keeping the learner engaged and connected. Suggestions for designing interactions to meet this purpose include, allowing expression of viewpoints in your activities, free choice in presenting thoughts and ideas, and even an opportunity to talk about themselves and what they hope to gain from the course.
After reflecting on these thoughts, it seems so simple. Now the challenge is to remember that one of my course objectives is also helping students feel a part of a learning community where they feel comfortable interacting with others and expressing their reflections, questions and needs on what is being learned.