Blended Learning- So.Many.Questions.

So I love the idea of blended learning.  I love that students have the ability to navigate their own learning but still have access to a teacher and opportunity to collaborate with their peers.   In EC&I 834, we’ve talked a lot about the fact that blended learning has multiple facets and models.  A few of these models are discussed the following video:


Because blended learning is so vast, I know that I fall somewhere within the spectrum of blended learning as I utilize technology within my teaching for the purpose of enhancing the learning of my students.  However, like Amy discusses in her blog this week, I’m not really sure what blended learning should look like as a specifically designed course in my middle years classroom.  Beyond utilizing technology, I find it difficult to know how to create a fluid pathway of blended learning.  How do I move between face to face and an online portion beyond what I’m already doing?  How do I create a program that allows for individuality as well as collaboration?  Is this all specified within the LMS I’m using?  Lots. Of. Questions.

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While I researched blended learning this week, I found that as with all things, there are companies who are invested in promoting and providing resources for blended learning.  One company that specializes in math discusses how they assess students, build an individual, personalized program for the day, provide a daily list of what teachers and students need to do for the day, pump out the necessary lesson plans and online resources and then reassess and build a program for the next day.  Parts of this sound ideal and parts sound robotic, but either way… think of all that work for one subject and it’s done by a computer!! How can I, as a lone human, create a blended system that works, think about that many elements, and not die in the process?

Thankfully, I came across an article by Fischer that stated:

Like the light bulb, building a successful blended-learning environment for students is a process of innovation, not an event.

To create and do something well, it will never begin perfectly, but begin it must.  So based upon my professional judgment, knowledge and needs of my students, knowledge of the curriculum and understanding of my access and limitations with technology, I just need to make the best decisions at this point regarding blended learning and then change and innovate as I go … just like I always do.   This is how I always teach – implementation, analysis and then reflection and change for improvement.

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I came across a site that laid out a framework with different steps and considerations for designing and implementing blended learning. The colour palette graphic is clickable within the site and gives different questions/thoughts to consider for each step when designing a blended learning environment.  In addition, there is a video and worksheet to give further guidance for educators for each step of the design process.  I found elements of this process helpful as I think about how to navigate my own course prototype.

Ultimately, the needs of my students must drive my prototype design.  I still have questions about how to merge face to face and the online component, but I know at some point I just have to make some decisions, jump in and try it and then make the necessary changes to make it better.  This course prototype is not just an assignment or an event.  It is real life learning.  It is a process of innovation.  It is not finished once it is implemented.  It is just beginning – awaiting refinement.  With this perspective, I feel a little more free to design my blended learning prototype.

How about you?  How are you feeling about blended learning or your prototype?



Oh, Mr. Bates…

Oddly enough, I’ve never really considered my own learning preferences related to digital resources.  I’ve often considered my choice of digital resources when it comes to teaching, but not necessarily when it comes to my own learning.  So when I sat back to think about it, I realized that my choice of digital resource both for my learning preference and my teaching preference usually comes down to the same thing …. purpose.  What am I trying to learn?  Why am I trying to learn that?  What am I teaching?  How might students learn that best?

Flickr creative commons

Initially, like Ashley and Kelsie, I would’ve indicated that my preference for learning was text. I visualize in text.  Sometimes, I actually visualize words and punctuation when people are talking – weird, I know.  In addition, memorizing has always been fairly easy for me as I can see the original text on a page so I’ve always assumed that I have an affinity for text.  However after some careful consideration and the following quote from Bates, my thinking has evolved. (An aside … I am one of the few who is just now watching Downton Abbey and every time I write the name Bates, I think of the valet for Lord Grantham, for whom I have a soft spot. Anyone else?!?  Downton is also the reason my blog is posted today and not yesterday, but I digress.)


Media differ in their ability to handle concrete or abstract knowledge. Abstract knowledge is handled primarily through language. While all media can handle language, either in written or spoken form, media vary in their ability to represent concrete knowledge.

Read Learn Glasses Text Highlighter Book Pen
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If I am learning something particularly philosophical or academic, I prefer text.  I like to be able to read and reread and go back to reference particular sections.  I would find it endlessly frustrating to have to rewind video or audio to locate a particular idea.  As well, I can interact with and annotate text more easily.  So to process something, I need text to develop my ideas, even if that means that I am responding in written text to different media (such as this blog).  I process abstract concepts better with text.

Basketball gateway to youth mentoring program
Wikimedia commons

However, if I am going to teach a new Phys. Ed. skill, I find text is often convoluted and wordy. Video is often much better as I can see progressions and what needs to happen in order to teach the skill. Rewatching/rewinding isn’t difficult as I’m looking for a visual, concrete image instead of a particular phrase or concept.  In this regard, my preference would be video.  So, I suppose I agree with Bates (the author, not the valet) that media differ in their ability to handle concrete or abstract knowledge.  The choice of media I prefer depends on what I want to learn.  That being said, I rarely choose audio to learn (okay, never) – unless I am watching someone speak.  I just start daydreaming.  I must have a need to “see” something which is implied by a preference for video and text or an actual speaker.

After analyzing my own learning, I considered what digital media I use most frequently in my classroom.  Of course, I use text in almost all subject areas at some point or other. However, I use a lot of videos to teach both abstract and concrete ideas as I believe students prefer it.  I think video allows a different type of interaction as there is audio and visual (and often music) which engages people in different ways.  In addition, I have a variety of reading levels in my classroom so video levels the playing field as far as taking in information.  Also, the ease of access to video is another draw for using it in the classroom.


I wonder if my assumption that video is the popular choice for my students is actually true. Is it actually what they would pick if given the option?  I guess I should consult them.

Ultimately, I choose media for my classroom depending on purpose.  Am I teaching the students a skill (audio/video)?  Do they need to see it (visual)?  Should they create their own visualizations (text/audio)?  Do they need to interact and develop their own ideas (text/audio/video)?  Andrew wrote a great blog this week about the value of different types of media for different purposes.  He often has students utilizing multiple media at the same time based upon their preferences.  This is something I aim to try despite the limitations of access to tech.  How can I allow/teach my students to access media in a way that best meets their learning needs/preferences?  How do I facilitate that type of environment with middle years students and still achieve my purpose?

Well-designed media can help learners move from the concrete to the abstract and back again, once more leading to deeper understanding.  – Tony Bates (still the author)

Quality media leads to quality learning Andrew Foreman

So, choosing purposefully and choosing quality media leads to richer, deeper learning. How do you choose media for your students?  Do you use multiple modes at one time?


Oh my overwhelmed brain … TouchCast review

This week I had a hard time deciding what which resources to view and reuse.  Last semester, in EC&I 833 I learned how to use Screencast-o-matic, Powtoon and Audacity during the course of the class. I really enjoyed learning and using all of them and realize that there must be purpose and intentionality in media that I choose as outlined in the reading by Bates.  In discussing which tools we may review this week, Lindy let me know about Edpuzzle, which Carla “wrote” about in her vlog this week.  It seems very cool and user friendly and Carla reviewed it well.  You should read/watch it!

Ultimately, I want to find something to assist with my module on ecosystems and am leaning towards some type of video creation at this point.  So, I decided to look at TouchCast as it was listed as an app that could create news-like video.  However, when I looked into it, it is so much more than that.  TouchCast is a video creation app that markets itself as a TV studio in your hands.

TouchCast is a smart video creation app that is fully browsable and responsive.  You can insert webpages, images, and video Apps (vApps) that can be tapped for a two-way video experience.


  • interactive; students can watch, read or view other elements and never leave the TouchCast
  • wide range of vApps right in TouchCast to insert in the video (maps, polls, twitter feeds, articles, videos)
  • inserted elements can be updated in real time (twitter, polls, etc)
  • green screen feature so that you can alter your surroundings within the video
  • teleprompter feature so that your script can be scrolling for only you to see as you create
  • can annotate within the video (on photos, maps, images, etc.)
  • can use screen as a whiteboard
  • can live stream with up to 12 team members (Can’t even fathom this as my brain is starting to disengage here …); can be in real time or recorded
  • fully shareable

The website has a few solid tutorials that would help beginners (ME!!) out.  Even the tutorials use TouchCast interactivity to teach you – very teachery indeed.  There is an educator’s guide cleverly named Engaging with the YouTube Generation that can be downloaded as a PDF.  It has background info about engaging 21st century learners and how TouchCast does that.  In addition, if you scroll down the PDF, there are TouchCasts made by teachers in different subject areas (although a couple broken links).  If you’re interested in using this tool, I would recommend taking a look at the various teacher created TouchCasts for an idea of how this tool can be used.


  • my withering brain??
  • if you’re not super techy, it may take a lot longer to realize the potential of this tool or may be intimidating to try

Here’s a clip related to a TouchCast in the classroom.  If you watch it, you will know she may be a little out of touch.  What sick teacher would video themselves and wait for an email during the day?? Okay, I will let the sarcasm rest.


Its name – TouchCast  – implies an interactive newscast (or a newscast on drugs which is screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-8-50-16-pmhow I would describe it!).  I think if you start small (for those like me), this could be a very rewarding tool.  Have you tried it?  Will you give it a try?