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Emma Barrett's H800 design narrative: Introduction to blended learning

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Emma Barrett
30 March 2016

Introduction to blended learning 


I am the lead instructional designer within a curriculum team of subject specialists.  I was delivering a short training session to the team to introduce them to blended learning.


The team consist of 7 sector specific curriculum managers who design programmes and write resources for a variety of different apprenticeship programmes. Currently the delivery model and supporting resources created by each member of the team focusses on face to face delivery using paper based learning resources.

Apprenticeships are going through a process of change and the company want to take this opportunity to improve our delivery through the use of technology enhanced learning. 

Each team member has different levels of experience and confidence with technology though all are generally supportive of the idea using technology for learning but don't know how to get started in changing their practice. 

Everyone knows each other though they work remotely so don't always work closely alongside each other. 

The team are busy in their day jobs and find it difficult to find the time and motivation to develop their technical knowledge or skills or experiment with things they are unsure about. 

I had a two hour slot at the end of a face to face team meeting.  Everyone had access to a laptop, with access to supporting resources and ideas provided on our VLE, flip chat paper and pens. 


Part of my role is to support the curriculum team in developing technology enhanced curriculum designs to support the new apprenticeship delivery and to support them in creating a wider variety of blended learning resources and activities to support the curriculum. 

The task was to introduce blended learning, promote the benefits of blended learning and support individuals in generating ideas of how to get started creating blended learning resources. 

Measures of success include: The creation of some example blended learning activities which can be presented to the board and other members of the delivery team.


Ask them to work in pairs or small groups 

I asked each team to write a definition of blended learning (research allowed), and present ideas their ideas back to the rest of the group, then compare definitions 

Definitions were all slightly different but they all agreed and liked each other’s definitions. Examples included: A bit like a recipe, hybrid teaching, interactive, variety of ways to suit the learner etc.

I then gave my definition but highlighted that were was no one agreed definition and we agreed that all were right

I then asked them to identify examples of the potential benefits of blended learning, present ideas back to the rest of the group and then compare examples 

Examples were all slightly different but they all agreed and liked each other’s examples. Examples included: A more exciting, interesting, learn better, retain more information, more creative, reach more learners etc. 

I then gave my examples but highlighted that were was no one set of benefits and we agreed that it depended on the learner and the situation as to what benefits would exist 

I then asked them to identify some examples of blended learning activities (research suggested, supporting resources with examples provided) 

The answers they provided included things such as: quizzes, case studies, role play, podcasts e-learning, labelling, peer-learning, matching activities etc. Not all but most examples were of things we are already using or things they have experienced in face to face classes.

I then gave some examples, which illustrated opportunities of using things such as Web 2.0 tools for blended learning in the hope that I would broaden their horizons and get them thinking of a wider variety activities which they could include within their blended learning designs.  These included using things that could be used by learners as activities, include: Vimeo, for making video introductions, Padlet, for contributing to collaborative research activities, socrative for taking part in online quizzes, trello for creating project plans, Prezi for creating presentations, Twitter for hosting twitter chats etc. 

They seemed to like the activities and asked for a more detailed list with some descriptions and further links which they could take a look at.  I had only prepared a list of ideas rather than more details information to support their use of such resources, so I had to take this away as an action.  

We discussed the face to face nature of our current delivery model and how this is a potential barrier to blended learning along.   Some shared concerns regarding the 'active' learning tasks and suggested that trainers and learners just wouldn’t do things if it was only for learning and didn’t count towards their end assessment.  We discussed how this would need to change for the new apprenticeships but they felt there might be some resistance to this and some were concerned it wouldn’t work as trainers wouldn’t believe in it.

Choose one or two examples and create blended learning activities and supporting resources to support one of the new apprenticeship standards 

People were unsure what to choose and wanted more time to decide what to create. 

There wasn't enough time to plan or discuss ideas and this was then set to be completed independently by the next meeting.   



The benefits of blended learning were all agreed on

New ideas for blended activities were highlighted 

Decisions on examples for them to create were not made and as their manager wasn’t there time was specifically allocated for them to complete this task, which means it may not be complete by all the team.  


Not enough time was allocated for the session. 

It would have been better if the team had some time to work together to plan their blended learning activities. 

I should have created some supporting resources for them to take away so they could explore the Web 2,0 tools I introduced straight away whilst they were interested.

I also wonder if it would have been better to identify one or two blended learning activities for individuals to create, rather than letting them choose their own, which they seemed to find difficult.  

As the session was on blended learning maybe a more technology enhanced approach would have helped to showcase the different types of blended learning activities that could be done and highlight some of the potential benefits more. Instead of doing this at a face to face meeting perhaps I should have done a remote session via skype. 

Time for them to create the resources should have been allocated and agreed by their manager.

Supporting resources were put into place for the team to engage with in advance so that they could some to the session with some of these ideas already but only one member of the team looked through these beforehand.  

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