BLENDED



Listen to our special edition on ‘blended’ for the Audio Podcast ‘How to design a resilient curriculum’ (transcript).

“In the future we will not speak of ‘blended’ education anymore, we will only talk of good education – and it will naturally involve a thoughtful integration of ‘face to face’ and online learning and teaching”
From an interview (2021) by Tikvah Breimer with Wiebe Dijkstra, Coordinator Blended Learning Developers at TU/Delft. Collaborated on two Erasmus+ Programmes on Blended Higher Education (EMBED (2017-2020) and DigitelPro (2022).

Are you curious for more? Would you like to get in touch? Feel free to contact our lead directly for any questions or inquiries you may have. tikvah@studioblended.com

Image: quick sketch of the elements of the a learning journey with a ‘blended learning wave’. Click to expand. Model created by Breimer during the Erasmus+ programme DigtelPro, based on  TU Delft / WP Dijkstra.

As lockdowns lift, we wake up to a new world - a world in a liminal space. We must all find our way in this changed world, including, do something with ‘blended’. Even if you are reluctant and would prefer to go back to how things were before: you cannot deny that the impact of lockdowns affects all our education in lasting ways. 

If you never heard of blended before - ‘blended learning’ is about the ‘thoughtful integration of online and face-to-face learning experiences’ (Garrison and Kanuka 2004, p. 96). Or in the words of Dijkstra & Goeman (2021, p. 6) ‘Blended learning refers to learning as a result of a deliberate, integrated combination of online and face-to-face activities.’

Consider this: “In the future we will not speak of ‘blended’ education anymore, we will only talk of good education – and it will naturally involve a thoughtful integration of ‘live’ and online teaching” (Dijkstra 2021, Technical University/Delft).

Examples are everywhere. Staff and students alike have new expectations about the flexibility of their schedules. Or perhaps in your context, ‘blended’ would open up so many opportunities and possibilities to decentralise,so that new leaners too gain access to your education. Technology has a strong presence, and reinvisions not only remote education, but even ‘face to face’ teaching: we see a new value and meaning of ‘live time’.

‘Blended’ is primarily a design challenge - which means, you must to re-design all your curricula, and reimagine every new curricula.

What do you miss out on, if you don’t include ‘blended’? To illustrate: many things you used to do ‘face to face’ - no longer make sense. They can now be done online, in order to enhance in fact, the impact of your ‘face to face’ teaching. Consider the beauty of a talk or lecture - too lenghty, too many of them, is not actually what makes 1) a brain learn optimally, 2) a memory that lasts - or 3) a brain gain the ability to transfer understandings to new settings. In other words: ‘face to face’ time needs a new pedagogical lens, to amplify and optimise the qualities of in person teaching, in a physical space.

Not re-designing your curriculum to strenghten your ‘face to face’ teaching with the presence of an online learning platform, will negatively impact your learners’ performance. You miss out on a spectrum of possibilities for differentiation - both for fast and passionate students, as for those who need extra attention. 

Consider the most impactful pedagogical innovations that came out of the lockdowns, amongst them: learner autonomy. With a blended approach, the possibilities for individual learning pathways and learning ecologies open up, to ensure both flexible and effective learning. Such learner autonomy is closely intertwined with technology, such as the learning platform, and requires modular thinking about your curriculum as well as carefully thinking through what this will mean for the teacher/trainer (i.e. communication, feedback and assessment).

And we must bring teacher wellbeing to the table: the worldwide lockdown proved just how essential this profession is. Teachers (which to us, includes trainers) will suffer, if they don’t know how to design for their own human resilience. Listen to a keynote about this by Tikvah Breimer.

To reassure you, blended is not a trend, it is here to stay. But how can you avoid having to re-design your curriculum, every new academic year, or with every new training delivery? So draining and exhausting. We plea, you need technical resilience - to ensure a curriculum lasts up to a decade, and can achieve maturity, calm. Going ‘blended’ is an excellent opportunity, to make your entire curriculum more sound technically and pedagogically, now that you’re on it.

At StudioBlended we are not on a mission for ‘blended’ - in fact: we take the angle of the new value and meaning of ‘live’ time, and of a ‘fit for purpose’ approach. We consider ourselves ‘pragmatic idealists’.

The optimal ‘blend’ is not a formula - it is unique design, everywhere. This is also why we work highly tailored and personalised with clients. 

Surely - higher education and capacity development of professionals, are never going to be the same in the post lockdown world.

Are you about to go into blended learning or in-country training? Let us come alongside you, especially now in a time of exploration and experimentation.

Allow us to give you time and take frustration out of your hands, as we bring an organic way of teaching and training that is both technically and humanly resilient.

We are well-versed with advising you on the constellation of technology that you would need too.

We train teachers and trainers.

And we can design and develop material for clients, ready for implementation.

We are well-versed with budget design (in concept) to visualise trade-offs in time/costs. Such as expert fees, schedules, travel etc.

The field is evolving so rapidly, that rather than catching the moment here, it makes much more sense to have an open conversation with you, if you’re interested in more. Feel free to give us a phone call, about who you are, what you need – and together we can see what our studio can do for you.

We are here especially for you as unique educational professional, to come alongside you as you work on the curriculum design of your module, course, training or degree, so that you can offer good and resilient education in the long run.

StudioBlended Foundation 2023

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