Reflecting on Blended Learning

Teacher’s Reflections for 2014

22 Years of Blended Learning: A Teacher's Reflections for 2014

Dr. Nellie Deutsh has been blending campus-based face-to-face classes in real time with online components for the past 22 years. This blog post is a brief reflection of her life in 2014 – new tools, new conferences, more MOOCs and her Google time machine.

Google Time Machine

I relate to everything I do and things that happen as opportunities for learning.  Technology has a lot to do with how I teach and learn. In fact, I teach as a way to learn with technology.

Generally, I don’t go back in time for inspiration, I prefer to reflect on events that are close to the present. However, if I must go back, I don’t spend time sifting through memories to recall past events.  I let Google search engine do the job. Google is my time machine. For example, if I want to find conferences I organized or was involved in, I google my name, conferences, and the year. I got 44,110 hits for “Nellie Deutsch conferences 2014″ on google search. To simplify and avoid googling myself, I make every effort to update my bio as things happen. I can then share my bio with colleagues and friends who may not want to google my name.

My Personal Reflections for 2014

I’ve been blending campus-based face-to-face classes in real time with online components for the past 22 years. I started out with discussion forums, online groups, emails, and my own websites; continued with WebQuests and wikis in the late and early 2000; and ended up with social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter; collaborative tools using wikis, Google drive and apps; course management systems such as Moodle and WizIQ; and synchronous environments such as WizIQ. Nowadays, new and improved tools are available to create video tutorials and share information. Learning has never been so easy, effective, exciting, and enjoyable.

Taking Advantage of e-Learning Tools

The tools available provide opportunities to experience learning. Teachers and students can become partners of learning as they collaborate and share information. The information includes both the content and the tools used to experience learning. Learners can engage in meaningful experiential learning. According to David Kolbe, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p. 38). Kolb’s experiential learning theory has come to life.  For example, if things go wrong with technology, we should not blame the system, other people, or ourselves. We should rejoice and accept the new circumstances as opportunities for learning.

Online Courses, MOOCs, Webinars, Conferences in 2014

I use the term “online” to refer to events that take place on the Internet or on the cloud. Technology offers tools for online collaboration. I may have initiated and organized these events, but many people were involved and contributed to their success. Moodle for Teachers and WizIQ promoted and housed the following events:

  • Connecting Online (CO09-CO14) for Instruction and Learning in February
  • Moodlemoot (MMVC11- MMVC14) free online conferences in August
  • Moodle MOOCs  3, 4 and 5 (February, June, and October)
  • MOOC on Second Life in April
  • Healthy and Sustainable Living MOOC in September
  • Blog Festivals: Spring – March (3 days), Summer – June 21, and Fall – September 21
  • EVO14 sessions: Moodle for Teachers (M4T) from January to February for 5 weeks
  • Learn to Blend and Flip with Technology course
  • Understanding the Teaching System on WizIQ webinars
  • Micro Teaching in Pairs webinars
  • International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) Young Learners and Teens (YLT) Special Interest Group (SIG) bi-monthly webinars

I took part in 2 offline conferences:

  • EdMedia in Finland – presented a paper on best practices in organizing MOOCs for educators worldwide using Moodle and WizIQ at the EdMedia conference June 2014 and a workshop on how to use Moodle 2.7.
  • Dublin, Ireland: invited keynote presentation and workshop on Partners of their Own Learning on November 22/23 in Ireland at the Digital ELT conference at the IATEFL LTSIG.

Can and Should Use Technology for Learning

We can and should use online technology tools to learn because they are available. Many of the popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google are developing free tools that allow people to engage and share information. Why not use what’s free and available?

Favourite Technology Tools for Video Tutorials in 2014

In 2014, I focused on teaching as a way to learn. I used WizIQ and my face-to-face classes. My philosophy of education is closely linked to learning as a transformational process. My ideas can be found in the writings of John Dewey, Fleming Alexander, Jean Paul Sartre, David Kolbe, Carl Rogers, Richard Carlson, Jack Mezirow, Richard E. Mayer, and Richard J. Davidson. The tools I used and promoted in my face-to-face, blended, and fully online courses, webinars, and conferences in 2014 were:

  • Crocodoc
  • Google Drive
  • Jing
  • Movenote
  • Plotagon
  • Present me
  • Screencast-o-matic

In the next blog post, I will write about the online and offline conferences I organized and presented in 2014.  I will focus on my learning experiences as a result of the conferences.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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