I was particularly struck this week by the thoughts on “integration” covered in the Blendkit2014 readings.
The first stage of building an integrated course is consistency and explicit connections between our face to face and online activities. As the reading said:
If students know that they can always find the details of the assignment introduced in the last class session by turning to the online modules or that they will always submit assignments via a particular online tool, students are likely to perceive the course as one consistent whole.
But this is only a small part of the overall picture.
The real game is crafting a story about what we are doing together.
As educators we need to begin to tell the story by being explicit in both our classroom discussions and our online guidelines about
- what we expect;
- why we think this might be a useful learning activity;
- how we think it connects to other recent and future learning activities;
- how the skills/knowledge/activities fit into the overall picture of the discipline or profession.
But the next step, which is even more important, is that our students must be given multiple opportunities to tell their own story about what they are learning, and about the connections that they are making as they move through the learning modules and different learning environments.
This can occur in both formal and informal ways.
All my courses come with a Facebook page and this is a natural way for students to begin to tell the story of their learning experience – they are used to posting their status, how they are feeling, how they are reacting, what they are thinking.
I also incorporate formal reflective self-assessments which wrap around all assignments, which begin in class and continue on line. These are linked to peer-review and peer assessments and early discussion of marking criteria that results in a collectively devised and owned marking rubric.
Telling the story of our courses means constantly retelling that story. Good learning design is only the first chapter of the story, it introduces some of the characters and gives us a sense of the plot but like all good stories it foreshadows rather than prescribes the rest of the narrative.