Current Models of Blended-Learning at ADLC:
At the Alberta Distance Learning Centre, the majority of the students we currently teach are those who primarily attend bricks and mortar schools but “choose to take one or more courses entirely online to supplement their traditional courses” (Staker, 2012 p. 14). This self-blended approach is one in which the students experience indirect blended learning by engaging in online learning for a portion of their schooling while attends the majority face-to face.
Another subset of students that ADLC serves is full-time online students in a fully online model. This approach involves very intentional instructional design choices that include, “Supplemental, Replacement, and Emporium models including web-based, multi-media resource, commercial software, automatically evaluated assessments with guided feedback, links to additional resources and alternative staffing models” (Twigg, 2008, p. 4). What we are looking to move towards with this group is a redesign that shifts towards an enriched virtual model where students would blend their time between online delivery of content and instruction and face-to-face experiences and opportunities for instruction. In this approach, rarely would students attend a bricks and mortar school every day, but could use the physical space and face-to-face connection with teachers and peers to supplement their online learning experience.
Redesigning Professional Learning:
As ubiquitous access to technology increases in K-12 classrooms, a shift in the way in which learning is designed and delivered is beginning to materialize. In the k-12 education, technology enhanced learning, whether it be a version of blended, or fully online is a growing and developing area of education. In 2012-2013, 10.3% of Alberta K-12 students took some form of distance education (Barbour, 2013). This trend will likely only increase in the future due to increased access to technology, better understanding of connectivist approaches to learning and demand from learners. As teachers begin to shift their classroom practice towards technology enhanced learning in its variety of models and classifications, a need for deep understanding of the pedagogy, theory and practice of this type of learning has emerged. Because online and blended learning is complex and continues to evolve, a need for professional development for pre-service and in-service teachers within the K- 12 system has materialized.
The Alberta Distance Learning Centre and the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University have begun to redesign their traditional delivery of both teacher professional learning (ADLC) and graduation level courses (AU). In a partnership that pairs, a PhD professor from Athabasca University with a practicing teacher researcher in K-12 online and blended learning, a process of co-creating and co-delivering a new model for professional learning in online and blended learning is being prototyped. The goal is to offer a series of micro-courses that will provide professional development in the theory and practice of online and blended learning. This redesigned model will use either a fully online or an enriched online model to create professional development that is more substantial than a one day seminar and less time demanding than a graduate level course commitment. These courses are designed to teach the theory of online and blended learning through the practice of engaging in the experience that model research informed best practice. Through this learning experience, practitioners will develop a deeper understanding of the opportunities and implications of technology enhanced learning for k-12 students.
Barbour, M. (2013). State of the nation: K-12 Online learning in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.openschool.bc.ca/pdfs/state_of_nation-2013.
Staker, H. & Horn, M.B. (2012). Classifying K to 12 Blendded Learning. Boston, MA: Innosight Institute. Available online at: http://blendedlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Classifying-K-12-blended-learning.pdf
Twigg, C.A. (2008). Six models of course redesign. Available online from http://www.thencat.org/PlanRes/R2R_ModCrsRed.htm