dinsdag 8 november 2011

Blended learning in the classroom

Blended learning? Learning blending what? For instance an on-line session preparing a classroom course, a combination of an audio or a video file sent by mail introducing a debate during a language course…
But blended learning is a lot more than these examples.

I have been working with three trainers in a bank who taught a group of 10 to 20 students for 3 days in a classroom with a PowerPoint presentation as support. I was able to show them the advantages of a blended learning course IN a classroom. They were all enthusiastic about my helping them converting their course into a blended leaning course.
First we developed a pre-classroom track to obtain a minimum required starting level of all participants. Thanks to this track, trainers didn’t need to lose 1 to 2 hours for explaining the basic features, allowing a classroom session to start at a higher level.
During the classroom session the e-learning platform was used to increase the students’ participation and interactivity. Instead of one or two students participating by answering the questions asked by the teacher, all participants connected to the LMS for a 10-questions quiz, with the trainer giving support to students in difficulties. Moreover we limited the number of participants to 9 per session.
In other words, 3 or 4 times a day the students connected to the LMS, on one hand to do a few exercises with the trainer giving personal support to each of the participants, and on another hand to study part of the subject material that is some how too boring to teach. In this way each student can work at his own pace and ask the teacher about specifics.

Why do traditional trainers feel attacked in their mission?

We transformed a 3-day classical course into a blended course of 4 (!) days, so one day more than before! This blended learning approach has a lot of advantages. I will give some of them:
* Each student is more involved and motivated! Indeed, all participants take actively part in the course because all of them have to answer the questions on the platform. Previously, these questions were asked in the class. And instead of 1 or 2 participants answering all the questions (for different reasons), now all participants have to answer them. So, there’s a double impact: the degree of involvement and motivation is much higher and afterwards trainers can do a tracking to check the answers and detect if there are any bottlenecks;
* Instead of reading a legal text in the class, each participant reads it on his own rhythm and connects to the LMS to answer any questions and receive immediate feedback. This feedback is not just “right” or “wrong” but gives a real answer to the question. In this way the student can assimilate much easier the legal rules. Thanks to the LMS, the assimilation process starts earlier in the learning process, which gives the student more confidence because he leaves the classroom convinced that he has learned something useful for his job;
* The trainers have the time and the possibility to resolve a few bottlenecks during the session. They can easily detect these bottlenecks thanks to the LMS installed filters to carry out a focused tracking of the answers given.

The platform enables the trainers to adjust their classroom actions and activities in function of the learning opportunities that come out of the platform possibilities for targeted tracking. They can detect the bottlenecks and the learning possibilities to adapt their course easily to the students’ level.

Conclusion of the trainers: let’s intensify the interaction between classroom sessions and LMS activities in order to lift our students to a higher level.

My answer: the goal has been achieved! This project strengthens my conviction that proper use of the powerful tool that an e-learning platform is and a well-considered and developed blended learning approach are essential to insure the growth of all competences of each individual student.