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Designing Blended English Language Learning Courses


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I’ve run an English school delivering face-to-face courses. I’ve run an online teaching operation. I’ve tried to combine the 2 many times – for Business English, Technical English and Exam Prep courses. My company has released 3 online Medical English courses this year, for nurses, healthcare workers and doctors. Most agree that the trend is towards online, but is the pedagogy any good? Can it replicate face-to-face, or will it always be the poor relation? This presentation looks at the best of face-to-face and online self-study, as well as the challenges facing both. It looks at how they can be combined in truly effective blended English language learning courses. This is a Medical English conference, so the examples and case studies will look at courses directly related to the concerns of delegates.

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Designing Blended English Language Learning Courses

  1. 1. Designing Blended English Language Learning Courses Chris Moore
  2. 2. Why?
  3. 3. Begin with the End in Mind “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.” Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What words do you need to express yourself? Describe the key scenarios you use English in Who do you use English with? What kind of texts do you read in English? What kind of writing do you do? What accents do you need to understand?
  4. 4. Plan Your Journey Taba’s Model of Curriculum Processes 1. Diagnosis of needs 2. Formulation of objectives 3. Selection of content 4. Organisation of content 5. Selection of learning experiences 6. Organisation of learning experiences 7. Determination of what to evaluate and means to evaluate 8. Checking for balance and sequence Hilda Taba, 1902-1967
  5. 5. Face-to-face Best Practice “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” John Dewey, 1859-1952 “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” John Dewey, 1859-1952
  6. 6. Face-to-face Best Practice Students • Engaged learners • Analysers • Experimenters • Collaborators • Problem solvers • Dialogue builders • Debaters Teachers • Planners • Learning experience creators and organisers • Facilitators • Listeners, elicitors • Feedback givers • Classroom managers • Experts
  7. 7. Face-to-face ESP Course Challenges 1. Time 2. Location 3. Technical content 4. Specificity 5. Cost
  8. 8. Rise of Informal Learning Unstructured, spontaneous, tangential, immediate, unpredictable, on- demand, mobile first, portable, anytime anywhere learning. Has this become the norm?
  9. 9. Here Comes Everybody
  10. 10. Self-Study: plus ça change,
  11. 11. …plus c'est la même chose?
  12. 12. Key Challenge of.. Anytime, anywhere, but is it any good?
  13. 13. Online Study – Best Practice Core Methodology • Relevant • Fun • Rewarding • Variety • Multimedia • Quick, eg short reading texts • Instant review & feedback • Recycle and re-contextualise content And then… • Adaptive • Social/sharing/networking/PLNs/learning communities • Gamified “In terms of lessons learned, it became apparent during the development process that good online design includes interactive elements on every screen the learner sees. Whereas traditional book-based programmes can provide explanations and examples followed up by related exercises, online design precludes extended expository material and has very definite real estate limits.” Beagle & Davies, ‘Blended Learning for the aviation industry: A case study’, 2013
  14. 14. So, Can the Twain Ever Meet? Face-to-face • Collaborative – pairs, groups • Synchronous • Extensive tasks – eg TBL • Teacher listens and feeds back • Tried and tested • Fixed materials • Not portable • Fixed times • Fixed location Online Self-study • Work alone - autonomy • Asynchronous • Short activities • Computer says right/wrong • Being tried, being tested • Reiterated, updateable materials • Portable • On-demand • Anywhere you have a connection Oh East is East and West is West, And never the twain shall meet… - Rudyard Kipling
  15. 15. Where the Twain Meets…Blended Learning What is Blended Learning? "combining Internet and digital media with established classroom forms that require the physical co-presence of teacher and students."
  16. 16. Why Blend?  Increased access  Increased flexibility  Personalisable  Localisable  Convenience  Variety of input and content  Touch points  Updateable content  Cost-effective  On-demand  Learner autonomy  Experiential learning  Research-based learning  Flipped classroom  Learner expectations  Market reach, wider audience  New forms of collaboration
  17. 17. How to Blend 1. Supplemental • Face-to-face classroom is primary component/driver • Online secondary, eg deepening knowledge, review/recontextualise, prepare for classroom interaction, personal study – may be optional 2. Replacement • Flexible mix; classroom interaction for collaboration, group problem solving, teacher-student interaction • Online for extensive reading/video (inc lectures & webinars)/research, reflection, writing, preparation 3. Emporium • Key learning space is physical/virtual learning resource centre • Online primary component/driver – collaborative focus, learner-driven study, flexible learning; minimal f2f sessions to present, discuss, feedback
  18. 18. Blended Learning Course Design for ESP Take a principled approach, not an eclectic one
  19. 19. Blended Learning Design – Some Questions  Learner needs?  Learning objectives?  Content breakdown?  Order of inputs?  Lead delivery mode?  Pedagogy?  Time allocation?  Session frequency and duration?  Level of student autonomy?  Compulsory vs optional?  Location?  Interactional patterns?  Role of teacher and students?  Level of support for students using BL?  Level of support for teachers using BL?  Evaluating effectiveness?  Tracking and reporting?  Improving the course?
  20. 20. Nursing English Case Study 1 Weekly Training F2F Sessions Guided online review, study and prep Needs Analysis, Goal Setting Assessment & Review
  21. 21. Nursing English Case Study 2 Daily F2F Sessions, different options Assessment &Review Bench-mark Phase1OnlineCourse NeedsAnalysis,GoalSetting Daily Self-Study, Guided, different options Weekly Webinars for all students On-demand Online Resources
  22. 22. To Conclude “effective implementation of technology is not accomplished just as an ‘add-on’ to existing tools, it must be synergised into the language learning environment with the support of surrounding educational systems” (Yang, SC (2001) Integrating computer-mediated tools into the language curriculum. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 17: 92.)
  23. 23. To continue the conversation Chris Moore Specialist Language Courses