The first post for this year is from one of our eScholars, Dianna Burr. Dianna has worked really hard on getting across the changes required to move her teaching practice to a blended mode rather than purely face to face, please enjoy her thoughts.
Please leave a comment, I’m sure she’d love to read your thoughts also.
Watching children learning how to master the myriad of playground experiences is a perfect metaphor for my eScholarship journey to mastering blended learning techniques.
As they tentatively explore the alien environment of swings, roundabouts and slides, guided and closely monitored by an anxious parent, they take their first step into the unknown, delightfully and blissfully unaware of the potential risks and hazards.
As a novice to blended learning I think I may have been one of those who ‘has been here before’. By that I mean that I have always believed in the notion that learning per se is more than the traditional didactic act that most people have been exposed to in modern times. I have always understood that in order to maximise my own learning experience, I need to have a combination of the usual teacher and classroom based delivery and a healthy portion of visual input in terms of mixed media with colour and movement.
My early childhood memories of school are very positive and although they could have been otherwise, I thrived during my formative years. Being left-handed was never a barrier to me (until I started sewing classes in high school where I failed dressmaking because I couldn’t cut fabric with right-handed scissors!) and yet only one generation before me people like me were treated as second class citizens and forced to write with their right hand, with the left one firmly secured behind them – my maternal uncle being a victim of such treatment. Like King George VI the consequence of this treatment for my uncle was that he developed a speech impediment which lasted well into his middle age.
Looking back, I realise that in those early years I was actually learning using blended learning methodologies. As children we are very quick to learn well those things that are positively reinforced. Behaviours are repeated when they are rewarded, and for me, learning was my reward, as I very quickly realized that if I learnt things quickly then I would get more things to learn or do and that would be different and exciting. Learning was a self-fulfilling methodology.
As an eScholarship recipient I have put in the time learning how to climb the slippery dip and I have reaped the reward of seeing my work actually looking like a structure on which to build a blended community. But like the children who spend countless hours and unlimited energy mastering the playground, I too will be negotiating the slippery dip of blended learning for some time yet.