Norm Vaughan and Michael Power hosted an Elluminate session a few days ago as part of the Canadian Institute of Distance Education Research (CIDER) sessions. Their topic was Blended Online Learning Design and you can access the recorded session here:
The session referenced that there are a range of models that can be considered as blended learning, with BOLD itself being completely online, incorporating some synchronous and some asynchronous components and spanning features of all the other models.
For instructors moving towards online (from traditional face to face), it seems possible that synchronous online might be the best way transition into the online environment. This might be the beginning ripple of significant change for faculty at the majority of universities in Canada and possibly also throughout the world. Lack of physical space at universities can be solved in this way and there is a lot of excitement that tools like elluminate could soon be bringing more higher education to a much wider range of students than ever before. And students are said to be keen on synchronous meetings (it was even suggested that time zones aren’t as much of an issue as might be thought because students will get up in the wee hours if a session is important to them). This is great news, but I do wonder if the novelty will eventually wear off. Or maybe the challenge will ensure that faculty keep the sessions meaningful.
For folks like me, who’ve spent years already working within the asynchronous online environment, incorporating synchronous is also an increasingly exciting option as the technology is becoming more reliable and accessible. To us, synchronous is not the bridge to online (we’re already there) but it is a way to add the dimension of reacting in real time.
I don’t want to see the boring parts of traditional face-to-face get translated into skype or elluminate, and I *do* think that there is a whole world beyond any of these models — one that incorporates the assessment of informal learning and knowledge building via web 2.0, but the CIDER session was an interesting perspective on where things are now and where they’re likely to be in the near future.
For more about CIDER: http://cider.athabascau.ca/CIDERSessions/