BLENDED LEARNING: A WAY FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN E-WORLD

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1 244 - Proceeding of the Global Summit on Education (GSE2013) BLENDED LEARNING: A WAY FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN E-WORLD Rakesh. k. Azad Associate Professor in Education, Bareilly College Bareilly. U.P India ABSTRACT Universal accessibility of technology to faculty and students is growing. Some of the areas where Educational Technology (ET) applies are web-sites, web seminars (Webinars), On-line assessment, examinations, classes, accept homework via , post interim grades via , use of computerized materials, online tutorials and conferences etc. We have much familiar of the recent technologies in learning environment such as; e-learning, web learning, M-learning, web tutorials, distance learning etc. but now the time has been changed. The time is now of Blended learning. Blended learning is one of the important aspects of such types of learning environment in teacher education. Blended Learning is a blending of different learning methods, techniques and resources and applying them in an interactively meaningful learning environment. Learners should have easy access to different learning resources in order to apply the knowledge and skills they learn under the supervision and support of the teacher inside and outside the classroom. The term blended learning is used to describe a solution that combines several different delivery methods, such as collaboration software, Web-based courses, EPSS, and knowledge management practices. Blended learning also is used to describe learning that mixes various event-based activities, including face-to-face classrooms, live e-learning and self-paced instruction. INTRODUCTION Universal accessibility of technology to faculty and students is growing. Some of the areas where Educational Technology (ET) applies are web-sites, web seminars (Webinars), On-line assessment, examinations, classes, accept homework via , post interim grades via , use of computerized materials, online tutorials and conferences etc. We have much familiar of the recent technologies in learning environment such as; e-learning, web learning, M-learning, web tutorials, distance learning etc. but now the time has been changed. The time is now of Blended learning. Blended learning is one of the important aspects of such types of learning environment in teacher education March 2013, Kuala Lumpur. Organized by WorldConferences.net 897

2 Blended Learning is a blending of different learning methods, techniques and resources and applying them in an interactively meaningful learning environment. Learners should have easy access to different learning resources in order to apply the knowledge and skills they learn under the supervision and support of the teacher inside and outside the classroom. This approach will combine face-to-face instruction with computer-mediated instruction. It also applies science or IT activities with the assistance of innovative educational technologies using computer, cellular or I-phones, Sky TV channels and other electronic media. Learners and teachers work together to improve the quality of learning and teaching, the ultimate aim of blended learning being to provide realistic practical opportunities for learners and teachers to make learning independent, useful, sustainable and ever growing (Graham, 2005). Blended learning combines online with face-to-face learning. The goal of blended learning is to provide the most efficient and effective instruction experience by combining delivery modalities. The term blended learning is used to describe a solution that combines several different delivery methods, such as collaboration software, Web-based courses, EPSS, and knowledge management practices. Blended learning also is used to describe learning that mixes various event-based activities, including face-to-face classrooms, live e- learning and self-paced instruction. Blended learning gives learners and teachers an environment to learn and teach more effectively. Learners can select the best activities to suit their own pace, learning style and level, as well as time and place. Learners can be more independent and self-reliant in their own learning. They can also be more able to take decisions, think creatively and critically, investigate and explore as well as solve problems they face in learning and real life. Meanwhile, teachers can be facilitators, supervisors, assessors, organizers and managers of learning activities, and so should be creative and able to support learners and provide various learning materials in different formats. Whether a course should be proposed as a face-to-face interaction, an online course or a blended course depends on the analysis of the competences at stake, the nature and location of the audience, and the resources available. Depending on the cross-analysis of these 3 parameters, the course designer will opt for one of the 3 options. In his course scenario he/she will then have to decide which parts are online, which parts are offline? A basic example of this is a course of English as a second language where the instructor reaches the conclusion that all audio-based activities (listening comprehension, oral expression) will take place in the classroom where all text-based activities will take place online (reading comprehension, essays writing). Blended learning increases the options for greater quality and quantity of human interaction in a learning environment. Blended learning offers learners the opportunity to be both together and apart (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004). A community of learners can interact at anytime and anywhere because of the benefits that computer-mediated educational tools provide. Blended learning provides a good mix of technologies and March 2013, Kuala Lumpur. Organized by WorldConferences.net 898

3 interactions, resulting in a socially supported, constructive, learning experience; this is especially significant given the profound affect that it could have on distance learning. How Learning Blended? To design blended training, the instructional designers start by analyzing the training or course objectives and braking them down into the smallest possible pedagogically (for children) or andragogically (for adults) appropriate chunks (learning object). After the course or training has been chunked, the best approach to deliver each segment of instruction (learning object) is identified. In some cases the best approach might be using online learning but in others it might be live instruction. The course is then aggregated by grouping the instruction logically while taking into account the medium of delivery. In this way, one may require a few lessons online and some others live. One of the main issues in blended learning is the use of medium. The media used for the blended learning are not limited to technology and can include: 1. Stand-alone, Asynchronous, or Synchronous online learning / training, 2. Performance support tools (knowledge management tools), 3. Traditional classroom, Labs, or other "hands-on" experiences, 4. Reading assignments, CD-ROM or other self-paced learning, 5. Tele-training / Tele-learning, or other media Role of the instructor in Blended Learning: The instructor can combine two or more methods of teaching method. A typical example of blended learning methodology would be a combination of technology-based materials and face-to-face sessions to present content. An instructor can begin a course with a well-structured introductory lesson in the classroom, and then proceed with follow-up materials online. Blended learning can also be applied to the integration of e- learning with a Learning Management System using computers in a physical classroom, along with face-to-face instruction. Guidance is suggested early in the process, to be used more sparingly as learners gain expertise (Kirschner, Sweller & Clark, 2006). Here is a table that categorizes the type of learning that may be used: Live face-to-face (formal) * Instructor-led classroom * Workshops * Coaching/mentoring * On-the-job (OTJ) training Virtual collaboration/synchronous * Live e-learning classes * E-mentoring Live face-to-face (informal) * Collegial connections * Work teams * Role modelling Virtual collaboration/asynchronous * * Online bulletin boards * List serves March 2013, Kuala Lumpur. Organized by WorldConferences.net 899

4 * Online communities Self-paced learning * Web learning modules * Online resource links * Simulations * Scenarios * Video and audio CD/DVDs * Online self-assessments * Workbooks Performance support * Help systems * Print job aids * Knowledge databases * Documentation * Performance/decision support tools Source: Strategies for Building Blended Learning, By Allison Rossett, Felicia Douglis, and Rebecca V. Frazee The role of the instructor is critical as this requires a transformation process to that of learning facilitator. Quite often, with the increase of baby boomers going back to school and pursuing higher education the skills required for technology use are limited. Instructors then find themselves more in the role of assisting students with computer skills and applications, helping them access the internet, and encouraging them to be independent learners. Blended learning takes time for both the instructor and learner to adapt to this relatively new instructional concept. Rethinking Blended learning in today s Education: With today's prevalence of high technology in many countries, blended learning often refers specifically to the provision or use of resources which combine e-learning (electronic) or m-learning (mobile) with other educational resources. Some would claim that key blended-learning arrangements can also involve e-mentoring or e-tutoring. These arrangements tend to combine an electronic learning component with some form of human interaction, although the involvement of an e-mentor or e-tutor does not necessarily need to be in the context of e-learning. E-mentoring or e-tutoring can also be provided as part of a "stand alone" ("un-blended") e-tutoring or e-mentoring arrangement. Heinze and Procter have developed the following definition for blended learning in higher education: Blended learning is learning that is facilitated by the effective combination of different modes of delivery, models of teaching and styles of learning, and is based on transparent communication amongst all parties involved with a course (Heinze, & Procter 2004). Some of the advantages of blended learning include; cost effectiveness for both the accrediting learning institution and the learner, accessibility to a post secondary education, and flexibility in scheduling and timetabling of course work. Some of the disadvantages may include; computer and internet access, limited knowledge in the use March 2013, Kuala Lumpur. Organized by WorldConferences.net 900

5 of technology, study skills, problems which are similar to those who would be entering a physical learning institution. It should also be noted that some authors talk about "hybrid learning" (this seems to be more common in Northern American sources) or "mixed learning". However, all of these concepts broadly refer to the integration (the "blending") of e-learning tools and techniques. Challenges of Blended Learning: Among the challenges of offering Blended Learning are: a) Managing instructional complexity: In blended learning the instructor has a wider choice of delivery mediums to combine. With that wider choice also came to a greater complexity and pressure on the instructor and designer. This is due to the variety of combinations of technology and possibly the lack of patterns to follow for that particular mix. These issues need to be addressed up front and taken into account during the design. We also need to take this into account due to its effects on the learner. It is easier to finish an online module and start another online module, for example, than it is for that second module to be video-conferencing based. Such changes require the learner to adapt. Time, guidelines, and even brief demos might need to be provided for the learner. b) Managing roles and responsibilities: Unlike traditional classroom learning in which there usually is a single instructor, in blended learning you might have multiple individuals, each taking a modality or role in the blend. Up front clarification of instructor and assistant roles is essential for success and the reduction of potential conflict and learner confusion (Sharma 2010). c) Creating seamless learning experience: Good communications among instructors and careful planning is another important element in the success of blended learning. Make sure that instructors and assistants communicate with one another throughout the instruction, not just before the course. Make sure that as different segments of the blend are designed, all prerequisites are met by the previous learning objects. Arrange learning objects or alter meeting times to insure each segment reinforces the previously acquired knowledge or skill and introduces new concepts seamlessly in spite of the different modality of delivery. d) Meeting the expectations: As with any new technology, there are those that endorse it and there are lagers. While many perceive the lagers to be difficult, a greater challenge is posed by overly eager fast endorsers. These overly eager individuals tend to overestimate the benefits and make others develop false expectations. Manage the expectations carefully so you can meet them and have success. Management of expectations is also important for instructors and March 2013, Kuala Lumpur. Organized by WorldConferences.net 901

6 learners to realistically perceive the benefits and work to be performed during the training or course. e) Controlling costs: Blended learning offers great flexibility and great effectiveness as it can chose the best medium for every objective; however, the challenge is to make the blend not only effective but also efficient. In cases where multiple instructors are used it is natural for each to perceive their part of the blend with disproportionate importance. From the design stage put in place cost controls that work hand in hand with quality assurance and learning effectiveness measures. Advantages of Blended Learning: As discussed above, one obvious advantage of blended learning is its ability to maximize effectiveness by matching the best medium for each learning object (course segment). Here are some of the benefits of a few of the mediums that might be used: a) Classroom: is good for workshops, coaching, exercises, feedback on activities and paper-based tests. b) Self-paced e-learning: is good for simulations, online case studies, interactive learning modules, , bulletin boards interactions, online assessments, and other forms of CBT (computer based training). c) Live e-learning: is good for application exercises, online coaching, and interaction between students, online feedback, assessment, chats and instant messaging. To summarize, the theory is that Blended Learning has the potential of offering courses or training that, through the wise choice of the blend, can have results that are better that the sum of the parts. References: 1. Graham, C. R. (2005). "Blended learning systems: Definition, current trends, and future directions." in Bonk, C. J.; Graham, C. R.. Handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer. pp Garrison, D. R.; H. Kanuka (2004). "Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education". The Internet and Higher Education 7 (2): Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., and Clark, R. E. (2006). "Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: an analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching". Educational Psychologist 41 (2): March 2013, Kuala Lumpur. Organized by WorldConferences.net 902

7 4. Heinze, A.; C. Procter (2004). "Reflections on the Use of Blended Learning". Education in a Changing Environment. University of Salford, Salford, Education Development Unit. 5. Sharma Kaushal (2010). Re-thinking Teacher Training: A conceptual approach. Interacting Factors for Social Development (VOL-3). Sarup Book Publishers, New Delhi. [ISBN: ] Authors: 1. Dr. Rakesh Kumar Azad, Associate Professor in Education, Bareilly College Bareilly.U.P. India March 2013, Kuala Lumpur. Organized by WorldConferences.net 903

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