So you want to use blended learning in your school? There’s plenty of advice as to how to get started – this is not a bad place to begin.
All blended learning is is the delivery of education both in and outside of the classroom, with the latter – the self-directed learning taking place digitally. What you’ve got to decide is the balance between the two, and that will change, dependent on the age group you’re teaching.
But first, you need to ask yourself all sorts of questions about how you’re going to create the environment in which any form of blended learning can work. And that is dependent on the learning platform (or platforms) you choose. The chances are, you’ll be at the mercy of your IT department when they are creating that space, so you need to be able to make sure they are asking the right questions of themselves and their suppliers. The success of your blended processes are dependent are answering these (and more) correctly.
1 – The user isn’t just the pupil, so how does the ‘audience’ break down: Teachers, pupils, parents, admins and who else?
2 – What is the identifier for the user? A school ID system? Social media sign-in?
3- Will there be an enforced BYOD policy?
4 – Where will users be expected to use the platform? At home or in a shared space?
5 – What support will be given to users during their use of the platform?
6 – If users can access this platform free from timetables, what 24/7 educational support will there be and how will that be accessed?
7 – What social media integration, if any, do you need?
8 – What levels of protection and access are needed?
9 – What functions does the platform need?
10 – How will students be tracked and monitored and what are we looking for? Assessment? Attendance? Understanding?
11 – What provisions need to be made for different speeds of learning?
12 – What are the particular functions required by each different audience
13 – How will this interoperate with other management systems?
14 – What kinds of content creation do you want to encourage and do you need to use the same platforms to create it? Eg, do you need to embed blogging, picture, video, audio software in there and would you want pupils using the same platforms to do so?
15 – If you use third party platforms, do they have to be free?
16 – Who will pay for the content?
17 – If the user pays, do you assume a single payment system no matter the provider?
187 – What are the preferred formats for content: video, text, audio etc?
19 – What different kinds of content lend themselves to different audiences?
20 – Who selects that content and what is the quality assurance process?
21 – How will content be reviewed by users?
22 – What will be the prompts to drive users to content?
23 – What anti-plagiarism methods do you want?
24 – Would you want to share pupil content? Would we want to share it?
25 – What data will you track of pupils?
26 – Will you need to track every action from every user? Including parents, admins, teachers and others?
27 – What are the access rights to different forms of data?
28 – What analysis will be applied to the data and how much would be automated and how much would be in the hands of teachers?
29 – What level of security needs to be applied?
30 – How do you measure consumption as well as understanding?
31 – What is the likely hardware that will be used to access this?
32 – Will this be browser or application driven?
33 – Will this generate reports and, if so, what format would they be in?
34 – How much user-led customisation would we want?
35 – How much?
Those will not be all the questions you will need to ask of any school learning platform, but they should give you the ammunition to begin the serious conversations with your IT team and suppliers. They should, at least, be treating you seriously by now…