Institute for Research on Learning Technologies hosts panel on blended learning

York’s Institute for Research on Learning Technologies (IRLT) is hosting an upcoming panel discussion to explore the potential of blended learning after a Brandon Hall Research workplace survey found that a mix of Web technologies with face-to-face learning is more effective than either e-learning or face-to-face instructional approaches alone.

The Blended Learning for Advancing Education & Workplace Learning panellists will discuss the issues surrounding blended learning on Wednesday, Nov. 12, from 12:15 to 2pm in Room 1009, TEL Building, Keele campus.

"Exploring the use of blending can both engage students as well as offer interesting models for instructors who wish to push the boundaries," says York Schulich School of Business Professor Jean Adams, acting associate director of the IRLT. "As well, this generation of incoming students is very conversant with the Web. In my opinion, we miss an enormous opportunity when we confine learning to traditional pedagogies."

Right: Jean Adams

Adams, the panel organizer, is a contributing author to the Brandon Hall Research publication The Real Story: Blended Learning. Her case study in the publication highlights the blended work she is spearheading with fellow Schulich School of Business Professor Gareth Morgan using the e-learning software NewMindsets (See May 6, 2003 issue of YFile) to support action learning projects and classroom learning in the Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration programs at York. Morgan and Adams, along with NewMindsets Inc. won a silver from Brandon Hall Research for Best Practices for Internal E-Learning in 2002. The pair have been incorporating blended learning into their teaching for some time.

"My work shows, as does the Brandon Hall report, that blended use of Web technologies enriches learning by accelerating, deepening and broadening personal and collective learning," says Adams. "Best of all, Web-based content integrated with face-to-face can support highly individualized learning."

Adams uses blended learning in her introductory business course at the Schulich School of Business – Managing Contemporary Enterprise – with more than 400 students. The students use NewMindset Web material to do research, apply their learning in real contexts, make a one-minute class presentation followed by a five-page paper that demonstrates what they learned. 

“Every student develops very personal skills based on their own learning needs. Every student studies different combinations of Web content to meet personal needs and interests,” says Adams. “Every student produces a unique paper with supporting evidence. This is the power of blending. I could never hope to achieve anything like this in any other way.”

York economics Professor Avi Cohen (left), dean’s adviser, TEL Initiatives, another early adopter of technology in the classroom, will moderate the discussion by the eight panellists. Elizabeth Watson, head librarian at the Peter F. Bronfman Business Library in York’s Schulich School of Business, will showcase new products being used to support and extend classroom learning. Ian Lumb, manager, network operations, will provide insights on general trends in demand and capacity for network provisioning aimed at pushing the boundaries of education.

Current initiatives in professional learning for teachers and effective ways blended approaches can be used to enrich learning will be discussed by Janet Murphy (right), manager, Innovative Learning Solutions, Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning (ABEL) program. Her talk will include examples of how the ABEL blended learning model is used in education, health care, research and in the private sector.

Lynne Zucker, director, education and health of Sun Microsystems of Canada, will share her thoughts on immersive learning environments and the promise they hold for enhancing learning, while Mary Leigh Morbey, acting director, Institute for Research on Learning Technologies, will give an overview of the Uganda Museum Web site development project and the ways in which technologies are being used to enrich and advance learning in museums.

The potential that blended learning offers in terms of meeting learning styles and preferences and how this is informing practice in her organization will be examined by Rita Hanesiak (left), senior manager of Scotiabank’s Global Performance and Learning Office.

Manager of the Faculty Support Centre, Rob Finlayson will offer a University-wide view of the use of different technologies to support and extend classroom learning and what the future holds. Ros Woodhouse, academic director, Centre for the Support of Teaching, will highlight new expectations for higher education in Canada and the opportunities for blended learning to help meet these expectations.

To attend Blended Learning for Advancing Education & Workplace Learning, RSVP by clicking here.