What do I want to get out of the Blended Learning Essentials MOOC?

So here I am, perched in a coffee shop, mulling over this question.  What do I want out of the course?

Although I’m no longer an ILT advisor and I’m not regularly delivering training on how technology enhanced learning I am still really passionate about the innovative, and appropriate use, of technology to enhance the learning experience.  Right from the early days of delivering community learning in the back room of a pub, or a school lounge, with limited availability to technology I was fascinated with the idea that the learning experience could be enhanced with tech.  Remember those heady days when you got excited at school seeing the TV trolley being wheeled into the classroom?

Well, the tech and it’s capability and availability has moved on at an incredible pace.  Things that were science fiction 20-30 years ago are a commonplace reality now. Mobile devices, tablets, wearable tech.  Just look at how many people have a smartphone, bluetooth peripherals, tablets, fitness trackers, and various other smart devices.  As I sit tip-tapping away in the coffee shop I’m here wearing a Pebble watch with my mobile phone in my bag at my feet, and my Fitbit reminding me I need to walk a lot further today to hit my fitness goal.  The people around me are connecting wirelessly to the internet, accessing their smartphones, paying contactlessly for their drinks.  Out the window I can see people visiting the cash machine.  All of these things require digital skills.  the trouble is, how many people can transfer those skills.  Not everyone acquires the ability to learn how to learn.  They don’t make that leap to see how what they already know about using technology can be applied in learning, or employment.

I think that this is my main challenge.  In my day job I’m helping training providers to see how they can support the development of these digital skills, especially in those traditionally technologically inhospitable work environments.  I frequently come across attitudes such as our apprentices work in warehouseing/ mechanics/ hairdressing/ health and social care/ childcare (I could go on but this a reflection not a list of apprenticeships) so they don’t need to use technology. Yet I can think of many instances where a little out-of-the-box thinking, or paradigm shift thinking (thank you Bob Harrison) could revolutionise teaching and learning, the learners skills  and engagement.  It’s getting people to come on that journey with me that is a challenge.  The learners are already, typically, carrying the potential to deliver this in their pockets.

When it comes to my voluntary work I’m training adult volunteers in the Scout Association.  They already give up a lot of their time to scouting and not many are enthusiastic about the training scheme, or the idea of giving up more evenings or weekends to do training.  The Scout Association provides a selection of learning resources on the website but they are not easy to navigate, or even to find.  To combat this I demonstrate  where resources are and provide detailed information in emails or messages (facebook messenger is my friend here), usually whilst sat in a coffee shop or pub (with WiFi) and scanning paper documents to Google Drive using my phone.  Trouble is not many of these learners are comfortable with the tech and I’m coming up with lots of barriers.  Again due to the digital skills.  You know they have the skills, you see them using their phone or facebook but they have no concept of how to apply those skills.

So why am I here?  Because I want to find a way around/ over/ combating/ challenging these problems. That.  That is why I am here.

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