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Blended Learning

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It is a short description of the complexities of creating a successful blend.

It is a short description of the complexities of creating a successful blend.

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  • 1. 'Blended Learning: is it the latest fad or the solution to all the world's problems' 'What do we blend in our Blended Learning?' by Leslie Simonfalvi International Teacher Training & Development College Contents 1 Introduction 2 Definition 3 Some Ex Cathedra Statements about Blended Learning 4 Experiential – Electronic Blending 5 Electronic – Experiential Blending 6 Blending for Special Purposes 7 What We Blend in Our Blended Learning 8 Conclusions
  • 2. 1 Introduction The number of articles and research papers on Blended Learning has been steadily growing over the past ten years or so. The literature on the topic is becoming so rich that it is almost impossible to follow, and it is definitely more than enough for the readers to break into different parties and fight. Because of this, I have decided to approach the topic from the point of view of the practising teacher. My imagined target reader is either the teacher who questions the importance of classroom and group experiences, thinking that the machine is the answer to all the (educational) world’s problems, or the teacher who has never tried to include machines in the teaching – learning – evaluation process, thinking that the machine is the root of all (educational) evil. As a matter of course, and all else in between. My sole aim with this paper is to show both the gadgetophile and the gadgetophobe teachers that there are special advantages, as well as special responsibilities, in combining experiential learning and e- learning, thus finding the golden mid-path. At the International Language Schools and at the International Teacher Training & Development College we use  the Communicative Approach to the Language,  the Humanistic – Person-Centred Approach to People and Groups,  the Nonviolent Communication Approach to Human Conflicts, and  the Total Quality Approach to Educational Management. In all parts of the International Language School Group we use computers
  • 3.  in the Classroom to help the Learning – Teaching – Teacher Training,  in the Autonomous Learning Centres to teach Students and Trainees how to work in a self-directed way, and  in special online learning sessions. Students also use computers in doing their homework and homejoy. With both the experiential and the electronic elements very well represented, it is only right to try and find the best way to combine the two for the benefits of all concerned. There are some other important facts that we must seriously consider when we plan either to fully apply or fully reject Blended Learning:  It is quite common that our students know a great deal more about electronic gadgets than we, the teachers will ever know.  The students started earlier than their teachers did, are going faster than their teachers are, and have found a more straight-to- the-point direction to the state where they can live in harmony with gadgets than their teachers have.  Because of the two points above it is not a realistic aim for us to try and catch up with them, and even less to overtake.  Rather, it is more realistic to form an alliance of experts in which we represent the pedagogical expertise and the students can add their technical expertise.  In a traditional setup, a trained and paid professional, i. e. the teacher, is facing the untrained and paying amateur, i. e. the student.  In an optimal Blended Learning program, i. e. in which we blend all we have, and have all we need to blend, roles are somewhat more symmetrical, and accordingly less manipulative.  Such a program is more a meeting point of a trained and paid professional, i. e. the teacher, and a self-trained professional, i. e.
  • 4. the student, who is, by the way, still a paying amateur in other respects.  In such a context, the flow of knowledge is a great deal more symmetrical than in a traditional setting.  Besides what the students take home, it is vitally important what they bring into the classroom, and how that imported knowledge can make the common pool of knowledge richer, as well as making the importer very interesting to the others.  What is more, if the prospects of bringing their new knowledge in is in the picture from the outset, the students will take their new knowledge home from the classroom differently since it is a kind of raw-material to work further on, rather than something final or dead to be buried.  There is yet another important element we must take into consideration and it is the question of truancy. There is a general tendency that students who are ready and happy to contribute to the success of the class very rarely play truant. They have become proud co-owners of the activities, and very frequently the whole class. 2 Definition Blended Learning is a combination of Experiential – Peer- Learning and e-Learning. As in any good blend, classroom experience and the electronically helped phase are combined or mixed together in such a way that the constituent parts are indistinguishable, at least as their relative importance is concerned. Blended Learning is also  integrated in the sense that it is made up of aspects or parts that work well together,
  • 5.  amalgamated in the sense that they combine both in structure and in function into one whole learning journey with very little stress and no risks, and  merging in the sense that the parts unite into one single entity within which the original parts are indistinguishable both from a hierarchical and an emotional viewpoint. However, the constituent parts do not dissapear altogether. Rather, they are each other’s Figure and Ground, as in Gestalt Psychology. In the classroom, we have a massive pool of new background knowledge to depend on and we gained it at the autonomous learning sessions at home or elsewhere. It is a great deal different from whatever others bring in, and it makes us ever more interesting to peers. In the autonomous learning sessions, we can depend on our newly- gained skills and more positive attitudes we have acquired in the classroom with peers. The newly-felt skills and the sense of success will make the autonomous learning sessions enjoyable and they will ultimately turn the Homework into Homejoy. Our Blended Learning is  Skill-Driven if / when we practise certain skills in the classroom and the students further practise them in their autonomous learning sessions,  Attitude-Driven if / when we develop better or more positive attitudes towards learning as such, learning something specific, or towards peers and cooperation with peers,  Competency-Driven if / when the students have to gain and transfer tacit knowledge. A further categorization of our Blended Learning is as follows:
  • 6.  Component Blends with separate delivery channels. Keyword: HAVE As an example, we practise grammar – structure drills in speech with the help of hardcopy printouts in the classroom, and we further practise the same material outside the classroom, one student with the help of PDF files, and another with MP3 attachments sent in e-mails. The choice depends on their needs rather than on their wants.  Integrated Blends with mutually supportive structures. Keyword: TAKE Taking the previous example, now all students receive everything, i. e. transcript, PDF file, and MP3, in a relatively strict order that constitutes a sort of ’technology’ in their autonomous learning.  Collaborative Blends with a mutually supportive peer-learning group. Keyword: BRING Here is an example to show the most common work-mode at the ILS Group. A class of 18 teenagers work in six 3s after a very brief presentation. It is a mixed-ability – mixed-age – mixed-level class with some LD students, or drop-out students, or physically handicapped students, or Asperger-Syndrome students dissolved – integrated in it. Each triplet has a different topic and their task here in the classroom is to reach the sort of understanding they will need to be able to work on the same topic autonomously at home, and add to it. The material can be practically anything the students are interested in, and the students can be motivated into learning almost any topic. In this cooperative setting they have to be able to listen to each other attentively, and it does not often come naturally in teenage classes. To reach this end, the D-words are something like this:
  • 7.  Take it in turns to read the text very carefully. One reads a paragraph, another sums it up in her / his own words, and the third raises concept questions or asks for explanations. For the next paragraph change roles and do the same. The last summerizer will sum up the whole material in hand.  You read partly for the thoughts of the author, but mainly for your own thoughts. Do not let them fly away. Share them with the others. The Laws of Conservation do not apply here. If you share your thoughts, you will keep them. If you want to keep them to yourself, you will lose them.  If you don’t understand something, stop the traffic and ask questions. Do not be afraid of, or ashamed by questions. Good questions are more important, and more urgent than the answers.  Go 3D, i. e. deep and high, and wide, and long. Do not go fast. Speed is not one of the dimensions. The students can use electronic dictionaries, encyclopaedias, reference books, coursebooks, the InterNet, and practically everything to reach the required level of understanding. It is a real open-book setting. When the session is over, the students will go home and will take with them an electronic encyclopaedia they have not used during the group- work, and it is different for each member of a triplet. Their task is to add to the topic, either at lenght or at depht or both, and make it approximately double size compared to the original. At the next meeting, they compare their ’products’ and, with very rare exceptions, they appreciate each other’s work a great deal. As a result, self-appreciation follows.  Expansive Blends with direct application channels into the students’ professional fields. Keyword: USE This type of blend is very individual and generally becomes active only after a relatively long incubation period and skills training.
  • 8. This is how we feed some students’ rare hobby-horses and professional interests that are very far from the general interests of the class. Doctors learning the language of physiology and anatomy is a very common example. 3 Some Ex Cathedra Statements about Blended Learning I take all these as self-explanatory, almost trivial, and do not feel the need to expand on any of them here.  Pedagogy has primacy over Technology. Even in Blended Learning, they are twin brothers but Pedagogy is the first-born.  Blended Learning cannot put the Sins of Pedagogy right.  We can only blend what we have. It is difficult to blend dreams and wishful thinking.  The teacher has no chance with teaching methods she / he has no direct experience in her / his own learning of anything.  The teacher has no chance with gadgets she / he has no direct experience in her / his own learning of anything.  The fact that your students like you does not necessarily mean that you can learn effectively together, either in the classroom or online. There is a chance that you are an extremely good entertainer.  The fact that the students like gadgets does not necessarily mean that they can learn effectively with them.  No amount and no variety of gadgets can make interpersonal relations less important than they are.  No amount and no variety of gadgets can make a boring lesson interesting, or a bored student interested.  No amount and no variety of gadgets can make a boring teacher interesting.
  • 9.  No amount and no variety of gadgets can replace educational objectives, goals, and aims.  No amount and no variety of gadgets can over-compensate our deficiences in learning – teaching methodology.  No amount and no variety of gadgets can make us forget about our students’ learning strategies and our own teaching styles. 4 Experiential – Electronic Blending In the Experiential – Electronic Blend we extend the learning space of the classroom into the students’ private space, and we buy into the students’ private time. We can only blend what we have. In the classroom, i. e. in a peer- learning communitiy, we tend to concentrate on developing skills and positive attitudes to be able to depend on them in the autonomous learning session at home or elsewhere. This blend is based on the principle that skills and attitudes developed in a peer-learning community will invite or provoke new knowledge in the autonomous learning sessions. This blend is 6-lessons-per-day classroom experience followed by regular, in most cases daily, e-learning. When Daytime Students first come in, most of them  cannot understand by listening well enough,  cannot speak well enough,  cannot understand by reading well enough,  cannot write well enough,  cannot understand without translation, and often  hear with their eyes, saying ’I’m a visual type.’ They must also learn how to learn.
  • 10. Additionally, they must also learn how to learn in groups. Furthermore, they must learn how to learn autonomously. What we have here on the experiential side is a self-directed peer- learning community  with a set of Ground Rules that was formed on a consensual basis, and has been strictly adhered to by all,  with very special interpersonal relations, i. e. by which the distinction between teacher and student is secondary to the fundamental equality between them as persons,  where all members have recognized that one can speak better if / when the others listen to her / him,  where all members have recognized that one can listen better if the others speak to her / him,  where a person is not compared to anyone else but herself / himself and where development means a better self or better knowledge of the self today than yesterday,  where levels are not compared to anyone else’s levels and where development of my level means higher than my level yesterday,  where everyone works with everyone else, and very importantly, everyone works with her / his relative stranger,  where we recognize and appreciate the others’ wants but serve their needs,  where everyone can be internally committed. We combine these with e-learning in the classroom in the form of  daily practice on electronic dictionaries,  daily practice on electronic encyclopaedias,  daily practice on the computer-based visual thesaurus,  daily practice on CD, MP3, and DVD materials.
  • 11. We also combine this with e-learning outside the classroom in the form of  daily e-mail messages to read and reply to,  daily e-mail MP3 attachments to listen to,  daily e-mail PDF attachments to read,  daily e-mail written exercises,  weekly or twice weekly Talk & Write / Skype sessions. After a semester or so, most Daytime Students  can understand by listening a great deal better,  can speak a great deal better,  can understand by reading well enough for an effective input,  are still reluctant to write more than the minimum requirement,  can understand without translation, and often  hear with their ears, i. e. they are more a balanced type. They have developed a great deal in learning how to learn. They have also learnt how to learn in groups. They have developed in their autonomous learning. 5 Electronic – Experiential Blending In the Electronic – Experiential Blend we have to shrink the students’ individual space into one common space and we will call it our space or classroom. We also have to turn the students’ individual time into a time of special quality and we will call it our time. Again, we can only blend what we have. We have to elicit and sense and listen to and discover and appreciate the students’ newly gained knowledge, and help them develop skills and attitudes out of that, or on the basis of that.
  • 12. This blend is based on the principle that the new knowledge, mainly gained in the autonomous learning sessions, will help students in their developing skills and developing attitudes if it is discovered and appreciated by the peer-learning community. This blend is daily e-elarning combined with occasional, most often 2 lessons per week, classroom experience. When Online Students first come in, most of them  cannot understand by listening well enough,  cannot speak well enough,  cannot understand by reading well enough,  cannot write well enough,  cannot understand without translation, and often  hear with their eyes, saying ’I’m a visual type.’ They must also learn how to learn. Additionally, they must also learn how to learn in groups. Furthermore, they must learn how to learn autonomously. As you probably discovered, there is no real difference between Daytime Students and and Online Students to start with. What we have here is the e-learning element outside the classroom in the form of  daily practice on electronic dictionaries,  daily practice on electronic encyclopaedias,  daily practice on the computer-based visual thesaurus,  daily practice on CD, MP3, and DVD materials,  daily e-mail messages to read and reply to,  daily e-mail MP3 attachments to listen to,  daily e-mail PDF attachments to read,  daily e-mail written exercises,
  • 13.  weekly or twice weekly Talk & Write / Skype sessions. We combine these with experiential learning in the form of  practical skill development,  interpersonal skill development,  problem solving skill development,  time-management skill development,  self-directed learning skill development, and  decision-making skill development. After a semester or so, most Online Students  can understand by listening somewhat better,  still cannot speak well enough,  cannot understand well enough by reading for a more massive input,  can write better,  cannot understand without translation, and often  hear with their eyes, i. e. ’I’m still a visual type.’ They have somewhat learnt how to learn. They do not find it impossible to learn in groups. They are a great deal better in learning autonomously. 6 Blending for Special Purposes There are many students at the ILS Group with Learning Disabilities – Learning Difficulties – Learning Differences. Since each and every LD Student has a unique combination of some of the 100 elementary problem-spots, we have to find a tailor-made solution for all, but we cannot give a general recipe on how to go about it.
  • 14. For example, dyslexic – dysgraphic students experience it as the greatest help if / when we let them write on a keyboard even in a classroom. As a further example, ADHD (attention-deficit – hyperactivity disorder) students are better off if / when we give them tasks on the screen instead of making them read printed worksheets even in the classroom. As a last example here and now, Asperger-Syndrome students are generally a great deal better at the e-learning and we have to invest a great deal into socialising them. 7 What We Blend in Our Blended Learning  Peer-Learning Blending with e-Learning In the classroom, we mainly deal with the group’s problems and we normally do it at the group’s speed. In the e-learning space, we can deal more with our individual problems and we can proceed at our individual speed. The common core between the two is that we can shape them both by what we take home, and by what we bring back into the classroom.  Classroom Teaching Blending with e-Teaching In the classroom, teaching is mainly micro-teaching, nano-teaching, and pico-teaching in a dynamic relationship. It is mainly active that is fast developing towards the proactive. In the e-learning space, teaching is more on the micro-macro borderline in a more static relationship. It is mainly reactive that is steadily developing towards the active.
  • 15. The common core between the two is that we never teach anything with itself. We teach everything with the help of everything else we have taught before. Both constituents need a heavy focus on learning how to learn.  Classroom Time Blending with Individual Time In the classroom, time is limited, rigid, precious, and often wasted or lost. Within the limited time available, we try to give equal time to everyone. It is very srongly felt in the classroom that time, besides having a lenght, has quality as well, and quality, good or bad, can overwrite the lenght. In the e-learning space, time is more flexible, but equally precious. We try to give equal time for everyone in the virtual classroom as well. The common core between the two is that in blended learning a famous – infamous American saying is disproved: time is not just money. It is more than money since it cannot be replaced once it is spent badly.  Classroom Space Blending with Individual Space In the classroom, the lesson is really in a multimedia library. For that the teacher has aquired a new role, i. e. besides being a source, a manager, and a facilitator, she / he has to be efficient as a multimedia librarian as well. Since the multimedia library is a unique combination of 1 per cent of the materials in active use, and 99 per cent of the materials just sitting there as potentialities, the teacher has to be prepared for all contingencies, and has to be able to make quick decisions.
  • 16. In the e-learning mode, there are individual learning spaces with so great diversity, that it is very difficult to keep track of them. The common core between the two is that we operate on the ’reality’ side of the Reality – Virtual Reality borderline.  Classroom Psychology Blending with e-Mentoring In the classroom, we apply the humanistic psychology of facilitating learning and development. It means that all the Six Rogerian Criteria must be met, i. e. 1 that teacher and student are in Psychological Contact, 2 the student is in a state of Incongruence, i. e. being vulnerable or anxious, 3 the teacher is Congruent or Integrated, and the fact that the teacher is also a student makes it at all possible, 4 the teacher is experiencing Unconditional Positive Regard towards the student, 5 the teacher is experiencing an Empathic Understanding of the student’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to Communicate this to the student, and 6 the student perceives, at least to a minimal degree, the Unconditional Positive Regard of the teacher for her / him, and the Empathic Understanding of the teacher. The Communication to the student of the teacher’s Unconditional Positive Regard and Empathic Understanding is, to some degree, achieved. In the e-learning space we can only apply a quasi-humanistic psychology of e-mentoring. It means that very often only 5 of the original 6 criteria will apply, i. e. the student should not remain Incongruent for very long. It means that many gadgetophile students
  • 17. become Congruent in an e-learning environment. Another one of the 6 criteria might be difficult to meet at times, and it is Communication. By Communication, here I do not mean the communication of information but the Communication of our Unconditional Positive Self-Regard, our Unconditional Positive Regard, our Empathy, and our Congruence. These, or some of these, are notoriously difficult to communicate through an e-learning space. The common core between the two is provided by the Unconditional Positive Self-Regard we give to ourselves, the Unconditional Positive Regard we give to all students, the Empathic Mirroring, and the Congruence we let the students feel, the Caring and Sharing that must be felt all over, and everyone’s Self-Directedness we help develop.  Classroom Pedagogy Blending with e-Learning Pedagogy In the classroom, our Pedagogy is mainly Person-Centred, Humanistic, and tailor-made for all students. Pedagogy comes before gadgets. In the e-learning space, our Pedagogy is more Learner-Centred, somewhat more prescriptive, and partly descriptive. The common core between the two is that our Pedagogy is Person- Centred, and Communicative. It is not the History of Pedagogy, it is not dogmatic, and it is like an Educational Smorgasbord.  Classroom Presence of the Teacher Blending with Her / His e-Learning Absence In the classroom, in an ideal case, the teacher herself / himself may become one of the potentialities since synergic groups or self-directed individual students will only turn to the teacher for help as a last resort. They may also turn to us if / when they want to share their
  • 18. newest discoveries with us. In a less-then-ideal classroom, the students may reject the teacher, may tolerate the teacher, or may embrace the teacher. Likewise, they may reject the experience, may tolerate the experience, or may embrace the experience. If you imagine this as an attitudinal matrix, you will find very interesting variations, combinations, or permutations. Space does not allow here to go into details, but very shortly, the way students experience the teacher’s presence in the classroom will greatly determine their attitude to experience there and then, and to the teacher’s absence, or presence of a totally different sort, in their autonomous learning. In the e-learning space, self-directed students, i. e. students who can tolerate the teacher and embrace the experience, will work efficiently if the necessary conditions are provided. As a counter-example, dependent students, i. e. students who embrace the teacher and tolerate or reject the experience, will find various alibis why they cannot spare the time even if the necessary conditions are provided. The common core between the two is in our ceaseless focus on learning how to learn, and in the readiness-training activities, both the psychological – motivational types, and the skill-based or competency–based types.  Classroom Communication Blending with e-Communication In the classroom, we are a listening- and speech-based culture, and we follow the Listening Comprehension > Speech > Reading Comprehension > Writing order for the basic skills. As a small example, we let, but never make the student say anything she / he has not heard enough.
  • 19. Another very important aspect of our classroom communication is that we follow the Gestalt Principle, i. e. the whole is different from the sum of the parts. In our case, it means that the meaning of the sentence is not the ’meanings’ of the words in the sentence. Rather, it is a completely different quality and content. Because of the above, we never learn anything outside the context. In other words, we do not ’export’ lexical items into word-lists or vocabulary books. Rather, we ’import’ meaning into the text from peers, from dictionaries, from encyclopaedias, etc. and then we keep it there. We only memorize fully understandable and understood language content. Our smooth communication in the classroom requires two very important sub-skills the students almost totally miss when they first come in, and will soon learn with us, and these are: 1 a very high active explanatory vocabulary, and 2 a very high level of questioning skills. With the first in hand, our students will be able to tolerate lower levels, i. e. lower than their own, a great deal better, and take them as a challenge. With the second, they will be able to tolerate higher levels, i. e. higher than their own, extremely well, and take them as sources. Since there is no such as a homogeneous class, this is the very basis of acquisition in the classroom. In the e-learning space, the students will mainly use the skills they gained in the classroom. Quite often the e-learning session, and some students’ momentary frustration by hiccups in the e-communication, create a massive need to further practise basic communication skills. The common core between the two is that we are not simply a knowledge-based society, but more a comprehension-based society,
  • 20. with massive knowledge underneath. It is probably best explained and demostrated by the Extended Bloom’s Taxonomy but the limited space here does not allow more details.  Classroom Language Blending with e-Learning Language In the classroom, our language use is very much away from the Mehrabian statistic of effective oral communication, i. e. 7 per cent of the meaning is in the words that are spoken, 38 per cent of the meaning is paralinguistic, and 55 per cent of the meaning is facial expression. It is very different for the simple reason that we use English as a Foreign Language. I do not have my own statistic but by an intelligent guess at a pre- intermediate – intermediate level it should be closer to about 50 per cent of the meaning is in the words that are spoken, some 25 per cent of the meaning is paralinguistic, and another 25 per cent of the meaning is facial expression. As we develop in the language level, our statistic is tending towards the Mehrabian levels but I doubt that we would ever reach it. In the e-learning space, simply because the visual element is mostly missing, I guess that the statistic is not drastically different. The efficiency of the communication will be a great deal lower because the meaning in the paralinguistic and facial expression elements is simply lost. The efficiency of the communication is a great deal higher for students who are better developed in their active explanatory vocabulary and in their questioning skills. The common core between the two is that we focus very heavily on teaching the paralinguistic – metalinguistic – extralinguistic features, quite independently from the fact that they may be momentarily lost in
  • 21. the communication.  Classroom Assertiveness Blending with e-Learning Assertiveness In the classroom, assertive behaviour is quite rare to start with, simply because assertivity is almost totally missing from Hungarian society. Instead of assertive behaviour, you will find any one of its four opposites, i. e. being an Aggressor, or being a Martyr, or being a Rebel, or being a Knight of the Holy Grail who will save the Weak and the Prosecuted. Because of the rarity of assertive behaviour, unassertive persons generally misread assertivity and this is the very reason why we had to start it at the top, i. e. with ourselves, and it is slowly going down the line in a sort of cascade system, from trainers through trainees down to students. Assertiveness training is there in all classes and in all activities. We concentrate on the  Posture and it should tend towards the upright and relaxed and open, rather than being rigid with tight fists and / or clenched teeth as for the Aggressor, or bent or slumped or crooked as for the Martyr.  Gestures and they should tend towards the open with the hands not raised above the elbow, and with parallel shoulders, rather than being tense with pointing or wagging fingers, and invading the personal space of the other as for the Aggressor, or restless with nodding head in agreement, and / or wringing hands as for a Non-Assertive Person.  Mime and it should tend towards committed or concerned or interested or responsive, rather than being tense or glancing or frowning with a tight jaw and / or eyes squinting as for the Aggresor, or blank or uninterested or afraid or half-smiling in agreement as for a Non-Assertive Person.  Eyes and they should be in high contact, rather than staring or bulging or glazed over as for the Aggressor, or looking down
  • 22. and / or keeping minimum contact as for a Non-Assertive Person.  Speech and Voice and they should be direct and relaxed and friendly, rather than fast and / or loud and / or clipped and / or high pitched and / or demanding and / or opinionated as for the Aggressor, or quiet and / or hesitant and / or slow and / or weak as for the Non-Assertive Person. In the e-learning space, the process is a great deal slower and it is limited to speech and voice as above. The common core between the two is our teacher training and training sessions for students in Assertiveness, Communication, Listening – Paying Attention – Focusing, and Mentor Training.  Class Management Blending with Self-Management and Knowledge Management In the classroom, teachers are managers, besides being sources, and being facilitators. We manage the teaching, the learning, time, space, materials, and assessment. In the e-learning space, both teachers and students self-manage the learning, time, space, projects, and assignments. The common core between the two is that both teachers and students have to learn how to manage and self-manage.  Autonomy in the Classroom Blending with Autonomy Outside the Classroom In the classroom, autonomy means the students’ independence of teacher’s control. Autonomy, in a supportive learning context, tends to facilitate self-determined motivation, positive development, and effective functioning. Autonomy is a must since learning, interest, commitment,
  • 23. understanding and retention are all self-generated, self-sustaining and autonomous. Autonomy can be delegated and empowered, or delegated without empowerment, or seized. Delegated and empowered autonomy works best with self-directed students and groups. In the e-learning space, the need for autonomy is exactly the same and will depend mainly on the student’s development on the autonomy- scale, and on the teacher’s skill in operation without control. The common core between the two is in our training sessions on the learning strategy – teaching style matrix.  Affordances towards the Classroom Blending with Affordances towards Self-Set Learning Sessions Affordances are action potentials that are latent in the environment. In our context it means that different persons go to, or stay away from, school for completely different reasons. Here is a list of comments, made by students about their schools, to illustrate what I mean: Why do I go to [this] school?  The Education Act forces me.  To silence my mother.  Here the teachers are not automatically right just because they are the teachers.  My parents force me.  My mother would kill me if I didn’t.  My mother would kill herself if I didn’t.  They don’t kill me here if I listen to music.  It’s a noisy place. I like noise.  My parents don’t force me but don’t leave me alone either if I
  • 24. don’t.  I have good company there. Most of the gals and guys are of my type.  It’s easy to pick up girls / boys there.  They are interested in what I know rather than stressing me with what I don’t.  It is a ‘cool’ place. They don’t take things too seriously.  This is the only school that took me.  They offer mentoring and other psychological help.  I want to learn but other schools did not take me.  Their program is very flexible and I can learn more of what I like.  I go to this school because I don’t need to go too often.  They offer good English and German classes.  They offer career guidance.  I don’t. I went once or twice, that’s all.  The teachers here don’t play big boss and don’t put me to shame all the time.  Who said I go to school.  Here I have the right to be silent if I choose to.  Why do I go to this school? Because it is not a school. It’s more like a club.  We have a good time there. Booze, grass, girls / boys, parties.  There are projects and I really enjoy them.  I am a black-sheep at home and I used to be a black-spot in my old school. Whatever made me black-spot there is kind of normal here. That’s why.  There are some excellent teachers there.  It’s five minutes from my place and I can get up at ten if I want to reach the third lesson.  From the first moment on, you feel they care.  The police were hot after me and I can hide here.  I want to finish secondary school and then I want to go to university.  They don’t make a fuss about using my mobile.  Here they don’t compare you with other students.
  • 25.  You can pass here with minimal effort.  I can sleep in many lessons. They don’t care.  All my old friends are there. In the classroom, in an ideal case, we socialize for the work we are doing. Out of the unlimited number of different causes, it is the enjoyable hard work, and the sense of success we experience as a result are what bring us here. These are what I call symbiontic affordances for a student – teacher symbiosis. Most of the other affordances on the list would be rather parasitic in a school setting. In the e-learning space, we may start from a different and more limited list, but the result is the same. Out of the somewhat more limited number of different causes, it is the enjoyable hard work, and the sense of success we experience as a result are what bring us here. The common core between the two is the safe, accepting, supporting environment that results in a group with very strong cohesion.  Study-Materials in the Classroom Blending with Study- Materials for the Autonomous Learning Sessions In the classroom, there is an almost unlimited, and still growing range of study-materials arranged into a multimedia library. It means that you find study-materials that are tailor-made for any problem of any student of any age at any level in any group. If you are a teacher here, you should learn your student before you teach her / him, and you should learn the multimedia library as a system before you teach in it. You meet your student and sensitively sense how she / he is. Please do not forget that we teach a person not a thing. Then you choose a material you think is best for her / his present state.
  • 26. Then you learn from your lesson and plan backwards. You conclude how you could have done better, and for that, what other materials you might have used. Then you produce that material and add it to the system. In the e-learning space, it is technically possible to provide the student with all sorts of materials. However, the types of materials are limited by the work-mode. The most popular materials are texts and visual aids produced by the ’Talk and Write’ virtual printer, and sent electronically to the student’s screen. The common core between the two is that we teach persons and materials are of secondary importance. This less important status really means that we prepare the materials with clear thinking and a lot of care, and then we can fully concentrate on the person. 8 Conclusions I would like to conclude this paper by a quote: ’When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’ Max Planck I would like you, Dear Reader, to change the way you look at Blended Learning, and to draw the rest of the conclusion.
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