Worcester: Why we Use Blended Learning #llas10

Rough notes taken from the conference:

Why we use  Blended Learning (define it – using Wimba to present, f2f, online, synchronous, asynchronous) –  example classroom, asynchornous tools, projects running, future.

What purpose did using BL fulfull? Languages – never enough to run a course – for lesser-taught (e.g. Arabic) and more advanced. Run courses that otherwise not viable.

Pilot projects – 6 week courses, begin/end f2f sessions, then 4 x live classrooms in between. Resources: VLE, Interactive, Paper-based, Cds/DVDs

Why Wimba? Set up with pedagogical design in mind, not a business suite! Recreated a real physical f2f classroom, quite intuitive to use. Course design not really v. Different from usual f2f courses. Moodle, Hot Potato quizzes, etc., download docs, recommended a book Easy link to virtual classroom.

First time tried Wimba classroom with a public audience (outside) – is presenting to us, but can hear  us. Has a technical person on standby throughout…  Demonstrating in text, feels a little false… few technical hiccups… Using Whiteboard as text didn’t work… Demonstrating the screen, etc… Really simple demonstration of what it can do… Interactivity – 2nd best to a face to face lesson (not a bad one) – hands up, clapping, etc. Using ticks as confirmation that they can see stuff before move forward. Mini polls (what were they using for that)… Individually work on it at their own pace.

Asynchronous – VLE (Moodle) with Wimba Classroom. All lessons archived – so if missed, can play it back. Voice email – click, record, play, send. (Option to reply?). Voice Board. Discussion board – audio – tutor can start discussion – record message, with a note … Language – she read phrase, and they could practice phrase, and then feed back with what they are happy with… [ask students for permission to demonstrate examples].

FIXED ROUND A SPECIFIC IDEA – otherwise it’s all about the tools.

Lack of visual cues can present problems – not entirely aware of what’s going on here. Feel like presenting to a void – need to encourage use of emoticons/chat alongside where appropriate.

Tech worked well on the whole, but extensive tech support was needed – for the experimental stages – now need to rely on Wimba more for 24/7 support – replies have generally been good, not 100%.

BL better than studying alone for most people – more motivating to see other people, have a live tutor, rather than trying to learn from a book/CD.

BL good alternatives when f2f not available.

The future – intro wider range, financially viable new courses, collabs with FE/HE institutions

10 Feb 11-12, j.barker[at]worc.ac.uk Pool students, share knowledge, etc. PPT will be attached to conference page – all need is a headset/microphone – so can visit the virtual classroom. Nobody needs to install the software, as Worcester have the licence. Need a small amount of Java installed – when try to enter the room, software automatically downloads, wizard will check if it’s working.

Grades tracked through the VLE. Is a grading system in Wimba, where? Can grade asynchronous?

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