Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Blended Learner and Teacher?

I will address as a student and and as a teacher. As a student I have taken blended learning courses in international business while attending Wollongong on campus and full-time through 2003 and 2004 with eight courses requiring at least three hours of lectures a week with full course notes and slides support on blackboard, assignments and presentations collaboration through email and cellphones and face to face meetings. The Wollongong library also provided plenty of CD Rom accessible online research journals fully wired apple computer study stations and group study rooms for face to face meetings.

Since 2007 I have taken nearly consecutive and at times concurrent online studies which blended various technologies without face to face meetings. For example my first course at eCornell was taken on the recommendation of one of my semipro golfer bosses to “take some course from some famous university.” So I took their certificate of leadership which investigates different forms of strategic decision management through online video, listening, web-boards all operated on the gomez learning platform. Notre Dame online is integrated in the University Alliance which delivers “new ivy” type schools online learning platforms. In 2007 I also completed their certificate of negotiation which integrates CD Rom videos, eluminate web chats and direct telephone simulations with classmates and reassured my bosses that I was ready to offer a small case-based class in global negotiation. These two courses certainly influenced my decision making and helped define my classroom orientation to web based ohp support especially for my international trade correspondance esp class as well as USB homework assignments. It had spill-over effect into my conversation class as well influencing web-based articles and presentations topic search.

In 2008 I took two more web-based certificates one in export management from "Never Say Die" John R. Jagoe's Export Institute USA (Affiliated with NAM and NASBITE both well regarded American export manufacturing associations) and the Canadian international trade certificate through Canada’s export trade learning delivery leader Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) and e Concordia in Montreal. These were far less interactive than the Notre Dame and Cornell courses however and the FITT course was text heavy and interactive light with all tests and quizzes online seemingly poorly aligned with textual materials. At times these were almost solitary student reading and quizzing courses with very little group-based collaboration and quite flat web-board moderation.

Benefits to my students of my blended studies included reaching for learning material in our shared subject area that is at the certificate and diploma level rather than graduate altitude. While examining the nuts and bolts of my discipline I get a good look at their career paths. This perpetuated a further certificate in research commercialisation with QUT which is basically training for research managers in planning and project management slightly outside my teaching focus but integral to learning more about the sphere of contracts-based research as I am fairly opportunistic. There is not so much I would change so far about my progressive learning online. For me it appears cumulative and has had an impact on the level of technology integration I have begun using with my students. The advantages are I get to communicate with people who are usually fluent in English about areas of intellectual shared interests and a satisfied teacher should communicate into satisfied students? I have tried blogs in the past but with my class sizes it is difficult to manage. I use email and ppt. slides, usb and online access to suggested wepages, hyperlinks and some videos where possible.

The drawbacks are few however I do not want to get away from a classroom focus on conversational English for international business. Yes, I want the students to interact with the technology while they are away but in the classroom I would like to hear and see them speak English. From Daniel

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