Blended professional learning | Walk the talk

[Note: This is cross-posted from the CORE Education blog…]

Just written a guest post for CORE on a recent breakfast session that I facilitated with Essential Resources, down in Invercargill. Here’s a flavour:

“We are all used to the traditional mode of professional learning – face-to-face, with possibly a presenter and some interactive elements. We may also be pretty au fait with synchronous virtual learning from video conferencing, such as in Skype/Google Hangout sessions or webinars (again, some listening, some participation).

But how often do sessions incorporate learners in both media, at the same time?

teachers talkingFor me, not often. But my recent CORE Breakfast, in association with Essential Resources, shone a spotlight on a model that we may see more often as educators become increasingly familiar with the idea of virtual learning. When people are geographically isolated, this might offer an ideal third way to access shared professional learning with schools elsewhere.
And my key point is this: A synchronous virtual experience, whether it is solely online or incorporated in a face-to-face session, shouldn’t be a ‘lesser’ experience for the virtual guest just because they are not physically present. As a friend asked me on Twitter recently: Should virtual learning have to be ‘sit on the mat and listen to the teacher’ style of learning?

The story

I was booked to facilitate a morning session with a group of educators in the Invercargill region, face-to-face. In the deep South, there are schools scattered like seeds across a pretty remote piece of New Zealand. One teacher, ‘Tom’, from a school two hours’ mountain climb/an expensive flight away, wanted to join us for the morning. Having spent a lot of time preparing for the face-to-face session, I had, by comparison, not as much notice that Tom would be joining us. No matter.

My challenge?

teacher on VCTo offer Tom a learning experience that was comparable with that offered to those in the room.

In my view, this was a great opportunity to walk the talk; I spend quite a bit of time, even in so called ‘e-learning’ sessions, talking with others about inclusion, and the need to start one’s learning design and planning from the point of view (needs/passions) of the learners that usually take more time to design for than others. The ‘outliers’. Those traditionally on the margins.

What better way to explore this idea than to demonstrate it in situ? Tom, as he live-streamed in, could easily have just listened while everyone else participated. But that’s not inclusive. It doesn’t model the principles of Universal Design for Learning that I believe should sit at the heart of how we work..”

…..[Read the full post]

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