Saturday, October 18, 2014

Self-experience in Blended Learning

To gain some experience “from the other side” I enrolled as a student in a Blended Learning Course. The subject was Mathematics and the course provider was a University offering a post graduate university level further training course (finally worth 6 ETCS).

1. Course structure

The course was split into three classroom teaching units and into two distance learning phases.

Structure of the course
 The course structure did fit to the taught subject as well as to the content distribution.

2. Quality fields

I’m going to evaluate the course fitting to the five quality fields that are defined in the Quality in Blended Learning Project.

2.1. Quality of the institution

The institution was an ISO-certified university and offered everything that’s described in that standard definition.

2.2. The enrollment

That was the first weak point: Enrollment was done providing not sufficient information about the course, several detailed as the exact duties during the course, the exact description of content were not described properly.

Additional, the enrollment in the distance learning platform (a Moodle platform) didn’t work properly and the technical support unit had to clear the problems.

2.3. The course itself

I missed competence oriented learning outcomes described at the beginning of each part. A checklist for the activities that had to be done during the distance learning phases would also have been useful (but was not provided).
The structure of the course in the eLearning platform was extremely confusing and unclear. From that experience I’ll claim more intensively a clear structure, well-designed outlays and a well-fitting compilation of the web based course in my publications.
The tutorial support was not exactly defined and it was not clear how it will be done from the beginning. In very general terms the distance learning courses was far away from the quality criteria defined by the project’s consortium.

2.4. The learning environment

The learning environment did fit partly in the classroom teaching as well as in the distance learning phase. The provided material was available on several (not connected) platforms. As mentioned above, the outlook and the structure of the course were basically suboptimal and – from my point of you – not user-friendly. It was necessary to scroll a big number of pages – all of them looking similar – so that it was not easy to keep an overview in the online course.

2.5. The assessment

An academic further training course validated with 6 ETCS must have a kind of standardized assessment. In that case it was the presentation of a content unit (also not competence-oriented defined) followed by a discussion with trainers and the other students. The frame-conditions were not clear defined so it was not so easy to target the expectations of the trainers. A detailed description of the environment of the assessment or details conditions also was not available.

3. Conclusion

It was a very exciting experience to watch how others interpret Blended Learning. To be included in the learning crowd and to watch everything from a kind of evaluator view checking each activity with the developed framework of quality criteria war extremely worthwhile.

From my point of view the development of a quality framework for Blended Learning develops in the right direction and the current results are well-fitting to the needs of learners.

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