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Blended Learning: Using Blackboard to
create a Community of Inquiry
Michael Lower
Faculty of Law, CUHK
Context
• Third year undergraduate law course (term 1
2015 – 16)
• 86 students
• Land law is prescribed for anyone hoping to
qualify as a solicitor barrister in Hong Kong
• Face to face elements (90 minute lecture and
45 minute tutorial every week)
• Blackboard VLE (ebooks, podcasts, slides) and
Wordpress blog
Community of Inquiry
Garrison, D., Anderson, T. and Archer, W. (2000) Critical inquiry in a text-based
environment: Computer conferencing in Higher Education. The Internet and Higher
Education. 2, 87 - 105
• Cognitive presence
(‘the extent to which the participants … are able to
construct meaning through sustained communication’)
• Social presence
(‘the ability of participants … to project their personal
characteristics into the community’)
• Teaching presence
(the role of the teacher in the design and facilitation of the
educational experience)
Knowledge Building
Scardamalia, M and Bereiter. C. (2006) Knowledge building. Theory, pedagogy and
technology. In Sawyer, K. (ed.) Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences. (New
York, Cambridge University Press)
• Knowledge is social and is embedded in a Community
of Practice
(Lave, J. and Wenger, E., (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge /
New York / Melbourne)
• Work on real problems and seek to advance the state
of knowledge
• Participants to become proficient both in the public
and cooperative discourses of the community
• The aim is to advance the state of knowledge within
the community
• Emphasis on the ability of discourse to contribute to
idea improvement
Challenges
• The course is relatively short
• A lot of material to be covered (prescribed by
the professional bodies)
• The seating arrangements in both lectures and
tutorials mean that all the students face the
teacher
• Responsibility for putting the course together
and delivering it rests entirely with the course
teacher(s) (so the teacher has to combine
teaching, content and pedagogical knowledge)
Koehler, M. and Mishra, P. (2009) What is technological pedagogical content knowledge?’ Contemporary Issues
in Technology and Teacher Education. 9, 60 - 70
Student tasks
• Introduced in course document and in the first
lecture
• Research essay of 1250 words (any topic they
choose within the broad theme) (to be submitted
at the end of week 12)
• Discussion forum posting of 250 words
(minimum) relevant to the theme (to be
submitted at the end of week 13)
Lectures
• Followed their own schedule
• Except that I re-arranged the order of the
classes to make sure that we had covered
nearly all of the relevant topics by the end of
week 6 (week 7 was reading week)
• At the end of a lecture I would point out ways
in which it linked to the topic
The digital space
• Podcasts and scripts timed to appear when
the underlying ideas had been covered in the
face-to-face course (apart from the first)
• Threads in the discussion forum
• Bibliography
Feedback to the students
• Some feedback in class (eg suggesting that they
build on contributions made by classmates)
• Responses to their emails sending me the link to
the discussion forum (with encouraging feedback)
• Written feedback on the courseworks
(commenting on their ideas, and the expression
of them and on the structure of their
coursework)
My own aspirations
• To work together with the students to curate, organise
and improve a body of knowledge and the ability to
discuss it (Undergraduate course as research lab or
think tank)
• To find ways of communicating that knowledge to the
outside world / allowing students to continue to
engage with the topic after the end of the course
• Teaching to go beyond pure transfer of knowledge
• The course should develop them as learners able to
formulate and debate ideas
• Perhaps even lead them to some change of identity so
that they see themselves as legitimate participants in
the community of scholars dealing with this question
This is the beginning of an Action Research
project
Orchestration
‘how a teacher manages, in real time, multi-layered activities
in a multi-constraints context’
Dillenbourg, P. (2013) Design for classroom orchestration. Computers and Education. 69, 485 - 492
Consequential transition
‘Consequential transition is the conscious reflective struggle
to reconstruct knowledge, skills, and identity in ways that are
consequential to the individual becoming someone or something
new, and in ways that contribute to the creation and
metamorphosis of social activity and, ultimately, society.’
Beach, K., (1999) Consequential transitions: A sociocultural expedition beyond transfer in education.
Review of Research in Education. 24, 101 – 139 (130)
Examples
‘A college student becoming a teacher, a worker trying to adapt
to a management-reorganized job, a middle school student doing
well in math for the first time in his life, and high school students
taking part-time work in fast food restaurants’
(114)
Research questions?
• How effective is the design:
– as a means of orchestrating the online and offline
elements to create an effective blended learning
environment;
– with the result that the students made a
consequential transition towards a sense of
participation in a Community of Inquiry / Community
of Practice?
• Which elements of the design contributed to
these goals?
• How should the design be refined to improve its
chances of success?
Data
• Teaching diary
• The discussion fora contributions and
courseworks
• Survey
• Interviews with the students
What do I expect to find?
• That orchestration – timing, sequencing and knowing and exploiting
the affordances of technologies and face-to-face sessions are
important
• Technology can also play a supporting role in reducing the amount
of effort needed for pure knowledge transfer (freeing student time
for better work)
• Content knowledge and finding ways to organise it and to engage in
private and public discourse about it will become more important
than ever as attributes of the teaching professional
• Technology can also play a part in the consequential transition by
allowing students to ‘create’ and go public with their creations
• That this will add a lot to what we expect of undergraduate courses
and of what we expect them to look like
What does it mean for the university?
• Consolidate and strengthen the identity of the
teaching professional
• The emergence of new types of professional
who are part of the teaching team?
• Increased value attributed to teaching
• Need to get more value out of teaching (to
justify the cost)
• A need to re-think established practices (eg
around timetabling, estate management)

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Michael lower using blackboard to create a community of inquiry

  • 1. Blended Learning: Using Blackboard to create a Community of Inquiry Michael Lower Faculty of Law, CUHK
  • 2. Context • Third year undergraduate law course (term 1 2015 – 16) • 86 students • Land law is prescribed for anyone hoping to qualify as a solicitor barrister in Hong Kong • Face to face elements (90 minute lecture and 45 minute tutorial every week) • Blackboard VLE (ebooks, podcasts, slides) and Wordpress blog
  • 3. Community of Inquiry Garrison, D., Anderson, T. and Archer, W. (2000) Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in Higher Education. The Internet and Higher Education. 2, 87 - 105 • Cognitive presence (‘the extent to which the participants … are able to construct meaning through sustained communication’) • Social presence (‘the ability of participants … to project their personal characteristics into the community’) • Teaching presence (the role of the teacher in the design and facilitation of the educational experience)
  • 4. Knowledge Building Scardamalia, M and Bereiter. C. (2006) Knowledge building. Theory, pedagogy and technology. In Sawyer, K. (ed.) Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences. (New York, Cambridge University Press) • Knowledge is social and is embedded in a Community of Practice (Lave, J. and Wenger, E., (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge / New York / Melbourne) • Work on real problems and seek to advance the state of knowledge • Participants to become proficient both in the public and cooperative discourses of the community • The aim is to advance the state of knowledge within the community • Emphasis on the ability of discourse to contribute to idea improvement
  • 5. Challenges • The course is relatively short • A lot of material to be covered (prescribed by the professional bodies) • The seating arrangements in both lectures and tutorials mean that all the students face the teacher • Responsibility for putting the course together and delivering it rests entirely with the course teacher(s) (so the teacher has to combine teaching, content and pedagogical knowledge) Koehler, M. and Mishra, P. (2009) What is technological pedagogical content knowledge?’ Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. 9, 60 - 70
  • 6. Student tasks • Introduced in course document and in the first lecture • Research essay of 1250 words (any topic they choose within the broad theme) (to be submitted at the end of week 12) • Discussion forum posting of 250 words (minimum) relevant to the theme (to be submitted at the end of week 13)
  • 7. Lectures • Followed their own schedule • Except that I re-arranged the order of the classes to make sure that we had covered nearly all of the relevant topics by the end of week 6 (week 7 was reading week) • At the end of a lecture I would point out ways in which it linked to the topic
  • 8. The digital space • Podcasts and scripts timed to appear when the underlying ideas had been covered in the face-to-face course (apart from the first) • Threads in the discussion forum • Bibliography
  • 9.
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  • 11. Feedback to the students • Some feedback in class (eg suggesting that they build on contributions made by classmates) • Responses to their emails sending me the link to the discussion forum (with encouraging feedback) • Written feedback on the courseworks (commenting on their ideas, and the expression of them and on the structure of their coursework)
  • 12. My own aspirations • To work together with the students to curate, organise and improve a body of knowledge and the ability to discuss it (Undergraduate course as research lab or think tank) • To find ways of communicating that knowledge to the outside world / allowing students to continue to engage with the topic after the end of the course • Teaching to go beyond pure transfer of knowledge • The course should develop them as learners able to formulate and debate ideas • Perhaps even lead them to some change of identity so that they see themselves as legitimate participants in the community of scholars dealing with this question
  • 13. This is the beginning of an Action Research project
  • 14. Orchestration ‘how a teacher manages, in real time, multi-layered activities in a multi-constraints context’ Dillenbourg, P. (2013) Design for classroom orchestration. Computers and Education. 69, 485 - 492
  • 15. Consequential transition ‘Consequential transition is the conscious reflective struggle to reconstruct knowledge, skills, and identity in ways that are consequential to the individual becoming someone or something new, and in ways that contribute to the creation and metamorphosis of social activity and, ultimately, society.’ Beach, K., (1999) Consequential transitions: A sociocultural expedition beyond transfer in education. Review of Research in Education. 24, 101 – 139 (130)
  • 16. Examples ‘A college student becoming a teacher, a worker trying to adapt to a management-reorganized job, a middle school student doing well in math for the first time in his life, and high school students taking part-time work in fast food restaurants’ (114)
  • 17. Research questions? • How effective is the design: – as a means of orchestrating the online and offline elements to create an effective blended learning environment; – with the result that the students made a consequential transition towards a sense of participation in a Community of Inquiry / Community of Practice? • Which elements of the design contributed to these goals? • How should the design be refined to improve its chances of success?
  • 18. Data • Teaching diary • The discussion fora contributions and courseworks • Survey • Interviews with the students
  • 19. What do I expect to find? • That orchestration – timing, sequencing and knowing and exploiting the affordances of technologies and face-to-face sessions are important • Technology can also play a supporting role in reducing the amount of effort needed for pure knowledge transfer (freeing student time for better work) • Content knowledge and finding ways to organise it and to engage in private and public discourse about it will become more important than ever as attributes of the teaching professional • Technology can also play a part in the consequential transition by allowing students to ‘create’ and go public with their creations • That this will add a lot to what we expect of undergraduate courses and of what we expect them to look like
  • 20. What does it mean for the university? • Consolidate and strengthen the identity of the teaching professional • The emergence of new types of professional who are part of the teaching team? • Increased value attributed to teaching • Need to get more value out of teaching (to justify the cost) • A need to re-think established practices (eg around timetabling, estate management)