Category Archives: presentation

My Keynote Address About ‘Blended Learning’

Last Wednesday (August 22), I had the honour of giving a keynote address to about 125 of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB)’s teachers, teacher-librarians, instructional leaders, program co-ordinators, and IT professionals at the 2012 Summer Institute organized by the ICT-Teaching and Learning with Technology and the Library and Learning Resources and Interdisciplinary Studies departments.  It was very well received!  Here’s the slide deck I presented (to view slides in fullscreen mode, click on the icon in the bottom-right of the slide window):

There’s a backchannel on TodaysMeet that ran alongside my keynote address so that audience members could dialogue throughout the half-hour presentation, and see their comments projected on the wall.

I had wanted to include some audience interaction during the address (using slide #17), by doing a think-pair-share-on-TodaysMeet, and follow it up with an oral discussion about the TM posts. I thought that would be nice way to model how to facilitate an offline discussion about online postings. Probably would have taken at least 10-15 minutes. But when I got to slide #17, I glanced down at my time, noticed that I was already at 27 minutes by that point, and decided to skip it because I didn’t want to throw their day’s schedule too far off course (we had started 10 minutes late). Oh well :(.  If I ever do this talk again, might need 45-60 minutes, lol!

Karen Beutler (ICT Instructional Leader for grades 7-12), with whom I had the pleasure of working alongside back in my Instructional Leader days, was very generous with her feedback, and in dialoguing with her, she’s inspired me to think further about how I could improve/extend the ideas I presented (thanks Karen!):

  1. Slide 3:  should “mobile” be considered its own “environment”?   I agonized over this slide.  I wanted to create a visual representation that would make the concept of blended learning easy to understand. Traditionally (i.e. before mobile web-enabled technologies), blended learning was a mixing of face-to-face (f2f) and online learning environments.  Karen:  “…mobile is just the means/hardware to access the online classroom” – exact same thought came to mind as I was googling “blended learning” to see how others explained it. In the same way that “online learning” is a “thing”, “mobile learning” is also a “thing”. Plus TDSB’s director sees m-learning as a focus. Also, mobile devices have other functionalities useful to BL that aren’t necessarily connected to the web (i.e. augmented reality apps, probes, photo/video/audio recording, GPS/mapping-related apps). For instance, James MacLean-Taylor presented at the marketplace his class photo-journal blog about Chinatown, Greektown, and Little India; and there was a mapping component to the photos.  So that’s why I decided to give “mobile” its own circle. I probably should have said more about the distinct affordances of mobile technologies besides the fact that they’re small and portable.I also struggled with the possibility of adding a 4th circle called “immersive”. But decided against it because depending on what type of immersive environment it is, it could either be a subcategory of “online” (i.e. Second Life, etc. – does anyone even use SL anymore???), or it’s a simulation from which to observe phenomena that isn’t accesible in real life – which, on its own, doesn’t really seem to fulfill what I would call “learning”, and therefore not circle-worthy :). But perhaps it really is circle worthy? Time will tell. I think we need a couple more years to see where this thing is going. Will it be a “thing”? I think so. What do you think about this one?
  2. Slide 5:  looking at BL through DI lens, then extend to 3-part lesson?   The term “3-part lesson” crossed my mind briefly when I was building the presentation (remembering Karen mentioning it a number times over the past year or 2). In an effort to ease the teachers into a new concept – “blended learning” (BL) – I was trying to find a familiar “lens” through which the teachers could see BL.  The whole “lens” thing is a throw-back to my master’s work.It seems to me that the 3-part lesson, as a methodological tool, seems to be a more granular tool than Differentiated Instruction(DI). DI as a tool, is on a more “macro” level than 3-part lesson, in that a teacher would use DI to decide on the general approach to instruction, that would possibly span several weeks. 3-part lesson would be the lesson planning tool that the teacher would use to enact said “general approach” on a day-to-day level.So I decided to go with DI because: (1) it’s a familiar lens to teachers, (2) it seems to drive home how “environment” can now be differentiated – DI of “environment” always seemed a bit vague to me without the technolog layer, (3) most importantly – my subversive attempt to get teachers to stop thinking about ICT as the flashy end product, and begin to see that ICT needs to be used in a way that TRANSFORMS learning (i.e. weave ICT throughout the learning process, capitalize on its peer-to-peer communication capabilities because SO MUCH learning comes out of that).Certainly 3-part lesson could have been a lens as well, but perhaps shown much later (after the DI lens), as an example of how to integrate BL into a single lesson, framed within a larger BL-infused lesson unit. This would be an interesting extension to the presentation itself – to show a mapping of an entire BL-infused unit, then maybe a 3-part lesson out of that unit.