So… to throw a few more ideas into the pot… let’s look at the idea of ‘blended values’…
When we talk about ‘blend’ – what are we talking about?Like to start with Wordnik for word meanings – looks at a range of dictionaries, etc.
So Wordnik was largely drawn from existing ‘paper’ options, but has used the possibilities of the internet to do something different, e.g. people discuss which meaning they like, etc… I like to see values such as - open-ness to discussion, collaboration, self-regulation, not a fixed answer… etc. for values…
So, Wordnik is offering a community… an online community, clearly offering those values, and then encouraging others to join in.
In my previous job, originally, was ‘Blended Learning Fellow’, and this was the starting definition that I worked to. At all times we were seeking to find a way to provide students with the best LEARNING experience. The tool we used would depend… my job was to encourage use of particular tools, but I was/am always keen to see that it’s “FIT FOR PURPOSE”.
Now, I’m quite well known for my desire to use the terminology of online/offline with regards to the digital world, rather than real/virtual… these are real people, engaging in real relationships online, and we must always remember that there is a human being at the other end of that keyboard.
As a trained life coach, I have spent a lot of time trying to work out who I am, and what I stand for – knowing that it’s an ongoing ‘journey’, but knowing what your core values are, what you want to achieve, what you will/won’t work with, helps you to stand firm in whatever environment you are in – whether it’s digital space, overseas, church, home, etc… something emphasised by LICC and their desire for 24/7 discipleship….
In all of this I am seeking authenticity – I know it can be a bit of an overused word, but it’s the word I come back to, and have done before all this talk of digital authenticity – how can I seek to be a ‘holistic’ person wherever I am, whatever I’m doing… can I look myself in the eye?
So, I went back to Wordnik – what kind of definitions were coming up there… “original”, rather than a copy – fitting with the theology that we are all unique in God’s eyes. Genuine… Worthy of trust – can we tell from someone’s communications (even without the body there) whether we can trust them? As someone who has never liked telephones… can people “see” us if we use a technological interface to mix up our teaching/learning/theology?
I often get asked to speak on online evangelism, but I thought that in all this we need to remember this great question that was posed by Christianity Magazine earlier this year… social media is about RELATIONSHIPS: talk to people, have fun with them, debate with them, enjoy their company … don’t always be looking for “the big sell”…
Whether as academics or preachers, or … we want to help people learning, question, etc. it’s not about learning by rote… Einstein: “Knowledge is experience – everything else is just information” – in 2009 Phil Race identified the main problem with e-learning is that it’s e-information, not e-knowledge! Race, p.177 . At the Plymouth e-learning conference this year, they retained the name, but emphasised that the e stood for excellence in learning, not electronic-learning – which is just learning, but using tools (which need as much consideration as we might use with other tools – e.g. pen & paper – which can be incredibly disruptive… Is possible to EYE-BALL vast quantities of information, clicking away without reflection.
Today’s students (potentially of every age, although some may need more help) are used to informal learning in every situation (e.g. “Oh, where is Egypt, I’ll just look it up on Google maps”, “Who wrote “To be or not to be”, it’ll be on the web somewhere, I might even be able to watch it.) It’s embedded, so when we seek to ‘blend’ we need to be aware of what’s already embedded – when people joke about having lost their arm when they use their phone – it is because it HAS changed our behaviours… They are used to interacting, sharing and creating content, and didactic modes of teaching become less and less effective, as students engage less and less with the process. When we want to engage people online, we need less didactic modes of communication also – allowing spaces for questions, contestation, etc…
Game too often seen as a solitary, extra-curricular activity, but game creators place engagement first, whilst much elearning places engagement behind academic rigour. Much eLearning is like getting on a train – one speed, set stops, and doesn’t fit the personalised world students are expecting to receive these days. Race, p.178: Huge amount of investment in gaming industry (as this presentation says, with a primary focus on engagement), means that student expectations are higher, and when faced with basic interfaces, the “want to learn” is damaged. (E.g. university websites often require doctoral level understanding to be able to engage – ivory towers are still live!) Elearning can facilitate more individualised learning – as students can each work in their own FLOW – few learn in the same way
I found this diagram helpful, although it refers to K-12 level students (USA, pre-College)As transferable skills have been highlighted by the need for career progression, these kind of ‘soft’ skills become more important.And if this is the approach that educators at pre-HE levels are taking, how much do we work with what students are used to, and how far do we challenge and re-train them?
Moving into the 21st C, digital residents use technology as their first stop…The expectation is that more DRs like Jake (aged 14) are engaging with us, and we need to be prepared for them… in all walks of life…
Look at how this translates in a phenomenon that’s being talked about at all the tech/teach conferences… 2:15
… a great example of this phrase.. SO much information is out there on Google, etc. – how do we help our students become good learners of that? Whether are students are formal students, or in other walks of life…
Just a couple of extra thoughts before we go to questions – when we think about using online tools – we need to think about how we can use them well, put them to work for us… here’s some options (not updated since 2009, but still live on the site) – but as always say to churches in workshops – need to understand what you STAND for, then can start to put strategies in place…
Something we’re attempting next weekend – a true blend. We’ll host a live event here… all welcome. Love you to stay for lunch = £10 to continue discussions… The event will be streamed live, via a ‘virtual classroom’, to LST, and whoever else wants to join … asking speakers to speak on areas they are comfortable in, but in a more interactive style – then conversation continues after the computer goes off with those in your physical space… Planned 10 of these through the year, the 2nd at LST etc…
So ... More discussions… who’s going to kick us off?
1. BlendedValuesDr Bex LewisResearch Fellow in SocialMedia and Online LearningCODEC, University of Durham
2. Community?Wikipedia defines community as A group of interacting people, living in some proximity (i.e., in space, time, or relationship). Community usually refers to a social unit larger than a household that shares common values and has social cohesion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community
3. What is „blended learning‟? “The term is commonly associated with the introduction of online media into a course or programme, whilst at the same time recognising that there is merit in retaining face-to-face contact and other traditional approaches to supporting students. It is also used where asynchronous media such as email, forums, blogs or wikis are deployed in conjunction with synchronous technologies, commonly text chat or audio.”  Janet Macdonald Blended Learning and Online Tutoring: Planning Learning Support and Activity Design, 2008, p2
10. The 21st Century Learnerhttp://mscofino.edublogs.org/2008/11/30/a-meeting-of-minds/
11. A Digital Resident: Jake‟s Story  “Jake told the executive that he never goes directly to a brand like this man‟s newspaper or even to blogs he likes. ... he reads a lot of news – far more than I did at his age. But he goes to that news only via the links from Digg, friends‟ blogs, and Twitter. He travels all around the internet that is edited by his peers because he trusts them and knows they share his interests. The web of trust is built at eye-level, peer-to-peer.” (Jarvis, p.86, my emphasis)
12. The „Flipped Classroom‟http://youtu.be/2H4RkudFzlc
13. The „Guide on the Side‟not the „Sage on the Stage‟
14. What values are in „theblend‟? Collaborative? Communicators? Customisable? Personalisation? Engaging? Experimental? Action-based learning? Reflective practice?