The pedagogy of blended learning

When training apprentices I used to really encourage the use of mobile devices to collect evidence.  This could be video, photographs or audio recordings typically. I delivered to apprentices in schools and was the lead internal verifier for the schools and childcare programmes and worked closely with the health and social care teams. Not once was there a problem with our policy around the use of technology.  When it came to training other providers there seems to be a problem for every technology based solution as to why people can’t use technology.  It’s quite simple with careful consideration of a few factors.

Safeguarding. If you’re encouraging learners to use internet enabled devices with camera functionality then you need to embrace this topic. Learners need to know how to interact with the digital world for their safety and the safety of those who may be captured in their evidence.  They need to understand about promoting themselves positively online and having an online presence they’d be happy for any prospective employer see in years to come.  They need to understand the safety of what they are doing.  Are they recording in a safe environment, is there anything sensitive that they should be aware of before recording and have they sought permission to collect digital evidence? Some workplace environments are particularly strict about the use of cameras, especially care settings.  Educate your learners in safeguarding so it’s not a blanket ban.  Teach them what is, and is not, acceptable and most of all teach them WHY. When they understand the why and can justify it in the collecting of evidence you know they truly understand the principles.  A learner in a nursery the knows they can take a photo, or do a video tour, of an activity they’ve set up without any children in the room and they can justify their reasons for capturing the evidence I this way. Safeguarding in practice, in the workplace, and not an essay that is theory out of context.

Devices and digital exclusion. In the real world not everyone is going to have everything that everyone else has. As educators we need to be prepared and enabled to deal with the likely situations of different tech, different devices, different operating systems, the haves, the have nots. There is no one correct answer, simply a matter of works and does not work in your situation. Solutions might be shared devices, loaned devices, pay as you learn devices, bring your own device, use your own device, tutors and assessors with the devices, learners with the devices. By being flexible and encouraging differentiation and making sure your learning is accessible you will be meeting the needs of learners. The solution for one cohort, or one provider, or one curriculum area could be very different to another’s. This is where we, as the educators and the influencers have to look at our own practice and lead by example. Are we problem finders or are we solutions driven?

So, problem based learning. I believe this is a great tool for learning as an incredibly useful transferable skill for employment. When we’re in work our employers don’t want an endless barrage of problems, and if they do get that you’re soon labelled as a moaner. Identify problems and consider solutions, work arounds, ways of doing things differently. A manager who is present with a problem and some thought out solutions is going to be a much happier manager than one who is dumped upon. Therefore, this skill is a fundamental employability skill we can be imparting on our learners that they can transfer to any context in the future. Hence, why this is one of my preferred methods of delivery in vocational education. The use of technology is an enhancement and a tool that allows the presentation of that problem whether it’s an interactive learning resource, for searching and collating information or presenting the solution.

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