Issue #3, March 2007

 

Blended Learning Training for Summer 2007
Interested in blending e-learning technology into your BIS course this summer? Let us know. A short Blended Learning Training program will begin in mid-April. After the training is complete, you'll receive individual support from an instructional design professional who will assist you in setting up your blended course. Contact gkessler@virginia.edu for information.

 
 

Piano Movers Don’t Shoot Hoops: An Instructor’s Perspective on Blended Learning

Join Us for an Elluminating Experience

Blended Learning Workshop

Additional Resources

Stay tuned ...

 


Blackboard screenshot from ISHU 318

   
 
 

Piano Movers Don’t Shoot Hoops: An Instructor’s Perspective on Blended Learning
Charlotte Matthews

This afternoon I passed a young boy shooting hoops at the end of his drive. He’d step to the end of the tarmac, briskly turn around, dribble three times, then shoot. More often than not, he’d hit the rim and the orange sphere would bounce off, unwieldy, onto the winter grass. But this didn’t seem to discourage the boy. He’d start all over again, the same three steps, the same intent concentration. What that boy was doing on this early March afternoon is quite like what Blended Learning permits: boundless second chances. The boy could go back to the end of his driveway as many times as he needed.

A Blended Learning class doesn’t end. It is there, in its form, all week long. It’s a magnification, an amplification, to the weekly 165-minute face-to-face class. It allows the kind of rigorous exchange and thoughtful attention that encourage the individual voice. It allows a level of focus, quite like the boy’s, to the material at hand. It motivates students to be active participants in the exploration of a topic.

Let me provide an example. After the first session of the Blended Learning Course I’m teaching this semester, I asked my students to post on Blackboard’s Discussion Board five nouns that came to mind when confronted with the image of river stones. Here are eight of the words that arose from that exchange: crevice, crawfish, eddy, moss, trout. What is dramatic about this? The fact that, like skipping stones, we could read each other’s thoughts over and over, if need be, at home. We could reflect on our class discussion from the prior Monday. The class, like the river stones, skipped and skipped and skipped across our week. It had tenacious second chances.

This afternoon two piano movers arrived at Glenn’s house. I prodded him to tell me about it. He described how they had to hoist the piano three inches off the floor to set it on a dolly. Imagine the moment. The piano movers didn’t have a second chance. If one of them had suddenly slipped, the piano would have lurched to the side, unwieldy, just like the boy’s basketball after his missed shot. But the boy’s second chance, his ability to walk over and over again to his chosen shooting spot, makes all the difference. He’ll improve, I suspect. He’ll grow to love what he is doing more and more -- because he is practicing. That’s how we learn.

A Blended Learning class allows for missed shots, those things you’d wished you’d said in class, but hadn’t, those examples, those references you didn’t have time for. The piano movers already know what they are doing. They’re experts. But we, in education, those of us striving to connect and grow, need the time and space to try over and over again. This is what Blended Learning allows.

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Join Us for an Elluminating Experience
Stephanie Scheer Conley

Creating opportunities for students to interact and collaborate is an essential part of a successful learning environment. When teaching for the first time in a blended environment, conceptualizing ways in which to create a student-centered, interactive environment can be challenging.

What if you could interact online with your students, in real-time, using both voice and two-way video? Show a PowerPoint slideshow which your students could edit as you move through the presentation? Share an application such as Excel from your computer and have students complete the spreadsheet? Take your students on a web-tour of a website? Place students into separate break out rooms to conduct group work? All of these activities and many more are now being tested using a very exciting software package, Elluminate Live!

BIS and SCPS are currently pilot testing this online learning environment to determine how such a tool can be effectively incorporated into the uvaonline and BIS blended community. BIS is using Elluminate Live! for class sessions, workshops and virtual office hours.

If you would like more information or would like to “test drive” Elluminate Live!, contact gkessler@virginia.edu. We’re interested in any questions, suggestions or feedback you have about this impressive web-based learning technology. If you would like to see what Elluminate Live! looks like from the student’s perspective, see the “Additional Resources ” section of this newsletter. We’ve included links to archives from a few Elluminate Live! sessions conducted this semester as well as links to the Elluminate Live! training and support site.

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Blended Learning Workshop

A Blended Learning Workshop is in the works. Several BIS faculty have agreed to lead small group discussions about their own experience with e-learning technologies and answer questions about what worked, what didn't and how to approach a blended course.

Additional information will be available on the Blended Learning Project Website at www.bisblended.info

Details will follow in the next issue of "The Blender."

   

Additional Resources

Elluminate Live! screenshot from ISLS 302
Why Do We Believe the Things We Do?

Stay tuned ...

In the next issue another blended learning pioneer will report on his or her journey into the blended learning world.

If you're interested in blending e-learning technology into your BIS course this summer, let us know. A short Blended Learning Training program will begin in mid-April for summer course. Contact gkessler@virginia.edu or for sconley@virginia.edu information.

Please direct questions and comments to Glenn Kessler (gkessler@virginia.edu) or Stephanie Scheer Conley (sconley@virginia.edu)