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Blended learning for the human services


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Paper presented at the DEANZ conference in Wellington, New Zealand on 11th April, 2012

Published in: Education, Technology
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Blended learning for the human services

  1. 1. Blending learning for the human services Neil Ballantyne Director Learning Designs
  2. 2. Blended learning“Blended learning is the thoughtful fusion of face-to-face and online learning experiences…such that the strengths of each are blended into a unique learning experience congruent with the context andintended educational purpose.” (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008, p5)
  3. 3. What’s in the human services blend?1. Social science knowledge declarative knowledge – knowing about2. Clinical practice knowledge functioning knowledge – know how3. Direct practice experience the practicum or placementThe first is the most likely candidate for onlinedeliveryThe second two are usually delivered F2F
  4. 4. Moving beyond technoscepticism• The human services literature includes a strong element of techno- scepticism and resistance to technology use in teaching and in practice.• Sometimes presented in the form of a manifesto for resistance rather than a reasoned academic discussion of evidence• See in particular: Kreuger & Stretch (2009); Kreuger & Stretch (2000a); Kreuger & Stretch, (2000b), and for a more recent example Vodde et al. (2010)• However, social work is engaging with the emerging network society (Ballantyne & LaMendola, 2011); and the use of distance learning is increasing (e.g. Oliaro & Trotter, 2010; Vernon et al. 2009; Wilke & Vinton, 2006)
  5. 5. Distance education in social work: current and emerging trendsSurvey by US Council of SW Education• 41% of BSW and 52% of MSW are delivering distance courses• Further 18% of BSW and 19% of MSW are considering delivery• 72% of BSW and 56% of MSW are using Internet/web delivery• 63% of BSW and 76% of MSW delivery is blended• 14.5% of BSW and 20% BSW delivering practice courses (Vernon et al., 2009)
  6. 6. A comparison of on-campus and distance social work education• @Monash University, Australia• Different demographics – Off-campus students were older, had children, working in social services, lived at a distance• Both groups satisfied with programmes of study• Distance students more satisfied with access to staff• Distance students less satisfied with distance as a mode of study• No significant difference in grades (Oliaro & Trotter, 2010)
  7. 7. Evaluation of first web-based advanced MSW programme• @Florida State University, USA• Demographic difference – Distance students older and had more work experience• No significant difference in satisfaction or grades• Distance students score slightly lower in relation to some Fieldwork Educator ratings (Wilke & Vinton, 2006)
  8. 8. Human service educators are beginning to harness new ways ofteaching practice skills
  9. 9. Learning practice skills online• Some exceptions to the rule that clinical practice skills ought to be taught F2F• Social work students in Canada and Scotland use multimedia case studies in a blended problem-based learning environment (Ballantyne & Knowles, 2007)• Social work students – one group F2F and one online – develop social work interview skills and video record interviews for assessment (Ouellette et al., 2006)• Social work students use web-based environment to learn skills in couples therapy (Shibusawa et al., 2006)• Online course as part of online MSW teaches clinical skills online (Siebert & Spaulding-Givens, 2006)
  10. 10. We need new kinds of interactive learning…
  11. 11. (Anderson, T. , 2008)…new ways of conceptualising interactivity
  12. 12. (Garrison & Anderson, 2003)…and new ways of imagining community & presence
  13. 13. • The supply of quality placements• The training and experience of practice educators• Timely access to the right learning opportunities The limitations of the practicum
  14. 14. A thought experiment …the virtual practicum?• It’s the year 2020• For one hour each week practicum students (as as an adjunct to their live practicum experience) engage in an immersive VR simulation• They work with real and simulated actors in virtual scenarios linked to key learning outcomes• Different cultures can be represented• Skills are practiced and can be assessed• The avatars pass the Turing Test• Would this be an educationally toxic experience?
  15. 15. Image CreditsSlide 8By: License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) |URL: 10By: TadeeejCC License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)URL: 13By: License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)URL: