Students have changed and expectations have altered – a fact that has opened up some huge opportunities for educational institutions to do what they do best: give students the tools they need for the future.
The question is no longer to blend or not to blend, because there’s a common understanding now that some form of blended learning is required. Gone are the days of pure talk and chalk. What we should be asking is: How do you design an effective blend?
For universities operating in the digital age, the learning experience has become a far more strategic process in light of changing student expectations. It’s almost as though universities need to design for the unexpected – and that’s the exciting part.
Ahead of Blended Learning 2015, we’d like to share five tips to explore how universities can enhance the learning experience; from creating the right culture to integrating mobile learning and analytics.
Staying relevant in the wake of this revelation is the way to go to continue attracting and retaining students, because students are no longer the recipients of formal educational services – they’re now influencers and contributors to the way courses are taught.
1. Drive a culture of blended innovation
In the transition from more traditional ways of teaching to blended and online forms of learning, there is a growing concern around the quality of what students are being provided.
Too often, lessons from history would suggest the ‘dump, dump and pump’ model of blended learning is used, where information is put online with very little consideration around the learning design. It’s essential to consider the way in which students might be engaged through the actual experience of that type of blended activity.
In the digital environment, there are an increasing number of international providers, which is why it’s vital not to let quality slip. An institution should stand behind the quality of the experience it offers. What you consider quality today might change in a few weeks, which reflects how the expectations of students are changing at unprecedented rates. Make sure your providers can adapt and meet the expectations and are ‘bought’ into your strategic vision.
From a collaboration perspective, stakeholders need to be convinced that blended learning is the right approach to pursue, because it’s their time and energy that will be required to achieve goals and objectives. Consultation is key here – ensuring all staff are aware their opinions are valued and addressed towards making an impact.
2. Implement mobile learning strategically
Institutional challenges should be addressed from the outset of any blended learning program. Consider:
- How to incorporate devices to enhance learning
- How to effectively support various delivery modes
- Ensure the existing infrastructure can accommodate students’ preferred devices
By establishing your goals and objectives early on, you can subsequently define who the strategy should be designed for based on persona research.
When it comes to designing the content for mobile learning, it’s important to ensure relevance in context of your learners’ needs. Modular learning activities can help scale the way students engage with subject materials.
So long as mobile learning is integrated with the overall learning cycle and assessment, you can develop clear and intuitive user interfaces – the focus should be on learning, not on drawbacks of clunky user experience.
From the teaching perspective, ongoing professional development for course instructors will ensure the longer term mobile strategy remains agile in accordance with student needs. Because at the end of the day, you cannot control how and in what context the learner will use their mobile device for learning.
3. Provide a personalised learning experience
As with many other industries, education making the transition to online has opened up a wealth of new, accessible information. Learning analytics combines data analysis of student interaction with online education, aiming to provide a more personalised learning experience.
The potential for analytics is huge, and universities are beginning to harness the abundance of available data.
For more top tips on building a better blended learning experience, read the full article here.
To know more about the Blended Learning Summit, please download the brochure or visit http://www.blended-learning.com.au.
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