This module on Blended Facilitation follows the earlier module on Blended Learning. Blended learning is about maximising opportunities face-to-face and online, designing the best possible learning experience overall. This involves selecting appropriate online learning resources and activities to enhance, extend or empower students' study experience. With the implementation of the LDF a higher percentage of NMIT courses will be at the extend and empower levels of the 3 E Framework. Online learning effectively complements face-to-face learning, when students are fully engaged in both environments, guided and supported by an active facilitator.
1. Creating links between online and face-to-face learning
To answer this question careful consideration needs to be given to what students will be doing online. Take a look at the 3E-Activity Mapping below, outlining possible online activities in the context of the 3 E Framework. Decide whether what your students need to do online will enhance, extend, or empower their learning ?
Think about how your online presence can foster student learning - decide when you should be online and why ? Once you have made these decisions you can develop a communication plan for your blended course. This template may be a useful starting point :
Consider the model outlined below. Note what is involved in creating a cognitive, social and teaching presence online ! For a more in-depth look at COL take a look at the article Community of Inquiry Framework (14 pages).
2.5 What happens if students challenge the learning process ?
If you are concerned about your ability to manage students who may challenge the learning process online this video Dealing with Difficult Students in the Online Classroom (17 minutes) provides sound strategies.
2.6 How can you efficiently summarise an online discussion ?
An online discussion can be efficiently and effectively summarised by finding common threads in participants' comments, weaving them together for feedback. Individual contributions can be recognised and links to key concepts and theories explored. Weaving is much quicker than the facilitator responding to individual postings. Too much facilitator presence online can reduce opportunities for students to respond to each other.
3.1 What is additional context and where do you add this ?
Additional context is content added as appropriate (eg an additional theory, current article or small case study introduced) to stimulate student activity/discussion.
It may be that students require additional context to scaffold learning or for extension purposes. It is more likely that additional context would be required online where the use of technology is extending or empowering learning.
Think about what additional context may be needed to assist your students to achieve their course goals ?
Facilitators who anticipate the need for additional context are well advised to prepare these resources and postings ahead of the course. This will enable facilitators to be responsive to their learners' needs and increasingly efficient !
There are a range of communication options online which can assist in promoting and consolidating communication within a course. This benefits both students and the facilitator ! Options for communicating with your students in NMIT Online include:
Course news forums: messages are stored online and email copies are sent to all course participants
General discussion forums: multiple formats for structuring online discussions
Private messaging: have a private conversation with a student - live text-chat if student is online or email copies are sent to students if they are not online
Chat rooms: options to set up class text chat rooms for an online brainstorm or simple meeting.
These options are explored below.
4.2 What is a course news forum ?
The News forum is for general course announcements and is automatically created for front page of an NMIT Moodle site. Only teachers and administrators may add posts or reply to posts. Default settings enable every enrolled person to be subscribed to the News forum. The latest news block displays a specific number of recent discussions from the News Forum. Here is a sample course news forum.
NMIT Moodle supports private messaging between users. If both users are online at the same time they can effectively operate a private chat room. If you send a message to someone who isn't online, an email copy is sent to their preferred address. See Private Messaging for instructions on how to send a message.
Live chat rooms online can be a useful supplement to face -to-face discussion. Small virtual teams can make good use of this "activity" to progress their work. So that a chat room is live at the designated time it is important to ensure the module settings are accurate.
5.1 Giving students a good start in their blended learning
All students are familiar with face-to-face learning environments, if not with some learning approaches. Not all students are familiar with online learning. Careful scaffolding can be required from assistance with logins to developing familiarity with using different tools. This has been described as providing an "on ramp " to online aspects of blended learning.
5.2 Selecting tools and resources
Being highly selective is key ! Tools and resources should be used when they are the most appropriate for the task. Students should not be asked to become familiar with a wide range of online tools within the context of any one course. Here is some helpful guidance on how to Add content and activities to your online course site.
6. Managing online assessment processes including tools
6.1 What assessment tools are available online ?
There are a range of assessment tools available in NMIT Moodle which assist students and facilitators .
You may be thinking about assessing online forum contributions.Students need a reason to go to a discussion forum. Either their contribution is being assessed or their participation extends their understanding of assessment requirements. If you are going to assess contributions then these two resources may be useful: