a case-based approach to blended learning and collaboration
The aim of this presentation is to emphazise that blended learning still is an appropriate way to deliver learning interventions. Fast net connections are rapidly becoming available to people and organizations around the world. At the same time, prices on computers and mobile devices is dropping. This has paved the way for web conference systems that provide users with easy access to live online communication. Teachers and students are no longer limited to physical class rooms, but can go global via virtual class rooms that can be created in the available web conference system. Fast connections, new applications and devices are simply making blended learning eaiser than before and therefore support a strongere focus on the learning activities Most web conference systems provide presentation functions enabling users to show slides, share files and engage in oral and visual communication with the other participants. Other common functions are chat, text boxes for keeping record of the agenda and points and decisions made. Some systems also provide a shared whiteboard and even polling opportunities. The most advanced systems thus provide a varied and wide range of facilities that support a multitude of activities. It is, however, tempting for teachers to simply transfer the well known models and practices of the physical class room to the virtual environment thus maintaining traditional lectures and individual, written assignments as teaching activities. This leaves the teacher in control of the subject and the activities, whereas the students will adopt a more passive role. The traditional lecture model is based on a paradigm that views learning as the transmission of information from teacher to student. In addition, the web conference will amplify the role of the teacher in that he/she can control access to the oral and written communication channels of the system, leaving the students with only the possibility to listen. It is a somewhat limiting view that leads to a superficial use of the system. Furthermore, this view brings with it a very narrow definition of the learning process which becomes an exchange of information between teacher and student in a formal class room. This presentation stresses that the use of web conference systems for teaching must be based on a didactic model that views learning as an active and social process thus expanding the learning context and opportunities. Such a model must take into consideration that users must get to know and become familiar with the system and that the functions of the system should carefully be matched with social learning activities to enhance the learning of students. The presentation will include a demonstration of the web conference system used at the University of Southern Denmark, the didactic model applied and best practice cases. Dialogue with the session participants will be promoted: • Before the presentation by posing questions that investigate the knowledge and experience of the participants on the use web conference systems in teaching and on live, online communication. • After the presentation, participants will be asked to share their comments and thoughts on the presented model and cases. Learning on the go, learning through mobile devices and learning around practical applications are a powerful combination; what evidence is there of how these approaches can be used to best effect? Is blended learning ‘last decade’ or is it still an appropriate way to deliver learning interventions? In what ways has peer or collaborative learning evolved?