QAA Articles

Try this Model of Blended Learning

Updated: May 17, 2020

Preferred Style of Interaction

Reflect upon an active and engaged model of pedagogy that may work well in your institution.

In fact has been proven to work in the GCC and across Asia wonderfully, with the onus on the students, not you the teacher.

Use the students themselves, and their preference for sociable chatter, their Preferred Style of Interaction.

Use blended learning in your day-to-day teaching: form learning groups, use mentors and virtually invite in other professionals to add authentic problems to be solved.

Think of your teaching as simply introducing new concepts to a cohort for them to meander through and gain their own perspectives on how this new idea might be of relevance to them, their lives and their futures.

Post the foundations of this concept to be taught online, in an easy read, personable format. Adapt the basic idea to be taught, write it yourself. A couple of pages with appropriate links is enough to get the students started on their independent learning journeys.

Add links to the specific words, phrases and items that are likely to trip them up, link glossary items to an online dictionary, add pictures, use local examples, inject some humour or relate it to their lives, to their futures.

Use the face-to-face class time to discuss the concept, ask open ended questions as to what they may have found interesting, positive or negative in their online travels through the links that you posted on this topic. Some of them may have posted related links to the discussion board, this offers multi-representational approaches, not just my (our?) biased and westernised perceptions.

A student may have even found an explanation or site about the topic in their first language and posted the link for all to see. Ask the group to explain it to you, to talk you through it, they are now 'teaching' you and enjoying themselves.

They are 'learning how to learn' within their own preferred parameters, learning their own preferred style of learning.

Of course, we know many of them may not even look at or explore the online postings, however, now they are listening in class to their friends and peers regaling them with relevant knowledge and debating pro’s and con’s. Even the most reticent are being drawn in and listening, vicariously learning, picking up vocabulary items here and there to act as learning hooks upon which they may later hang information and related knowledge.

You'll find they tend to be absent less and arrive a little earlier, you will see it’s beginning to work, the magic of enthusiasm for learning.

For maybe the first time in their schooling they are being treated as adults, their opinions and voices matter, with responsibilities to help others, peer teaching.

Now they look forward to small group discussions and team-working, the momentum is picking up.

The postings will increase even from the quiet and less confident students. You'll see that research presentations are better prepared and they are worrying less about their English but concentrating on the depth of research and quality of presentation.

Less will be obviously copied and pasted into the slides, there will be less reliance on the Powerpoint itself and more on discussion and debate.

Now we could ask topic professionals, renowned experts, scholars of repute, authors, to come on board for a week or two and post a problem on the discussion forum; offering the cohort to interact in authentic and contemporary issue or debate.

Professionals are invariable pleased to be offered to take part in the learning process of their specialism, expanding student learning and moving the self-confidence up a peg, another rung up Maslow’s hierarchy.

So what are the outcomes of this simple, yet highly effective model?

Essentially and importantly we are integrating the major tenets of co-constructivism and student-centered learning. We are enabling the shift from the passive and didactic prior-experience to an active way of learning, which ultimately leads to increases in motivation, learner confidence, needs achievement, autonomous, self-directed learning.

We are facilitating expanded and connective learning, weakening barriers with external stakeholders, introducing the formation of peer and cohort supportive Communities of Practice, peripheral learning and authentic problem solving.

We are offering strategies for cognitive flexibility, cultural synergy, and deeper analytical thinking/critical analysis which is a pretty healthy start from any perspective.

Such a healthy start in fact, that of the four separate campus cohorts to whom I introduced this model of learning back in 2004 in their BA, 25% decided to go directly on to study for their master's degrees.

We received the accrediting UK university External Examiners report informing that some of the students' output product was up to UK masters degree level.

Give it a go if you haven't moved to flipping classes already, perhaps with a few positive lecturers and a couple of test modules/courses.

We can help and guide you through the set up; it makes life so much easier for all and is such a confidence builder. Imagine a class which is buzzing and with the lecturer just acting a The Guide on the Side, steering occasionally to keep it on track.

Dr Laurence Brown.

Tel: +447796048874 Skype