I recently attended the Fifth International Blended Learning Conference 2010 at the University of Hertfordshire and they used Cloudworks for the delegates to communicate pre – and post-conference. This was a useful way to read more about the keynotes and sessions before the event as well as a great way to get to know your fellow delegates. Cloudworks is an easy to use, open access social networking site. Martin Oliver from the Institute of Education gave a very interesting and provocative keynote on the second day where he questioned the notion of Blended Learning as well as criticising a general understanding of Communities of Practice as automatically being about positive and inclusive spaces/practices.
Myths and promises of blended learning by Martin Oliver (Reader in the Faculty of Culture and Pedagogy at the Institute of Education. )
While lots of people write about blended learning, it isn’t always clear what is meant, or whether people are writing about the same thing. The purpose of this talk is to identify some assumptions and common assertions made about blended learning, so that these “myths” – claims that seem natural, because their historical and constructed status has been hidden rhetorically – can be explored and challenged. Such myths include the existence of purely online and purely face-to-face learning that can then be blended, ignoring the complex ways in which students learn; the idea that we should incorporate new technology because it is demanded by a new generation of students, ignoring the diversity of students’ experiences and evidence that technology use is not ‘generational’; and the claim that we can turn courses into learning communities through blended learning. Based on this critique, a more complicated picture emerges, highlighting the importance of learners’ purposes, choices and contexts. Throughout, I will argue that a body of work has developed that takes account of this messier, less controllable situation, and that we need to turn to this to as a basis for developing our thinking about blended learning.
You can access his keynote abstract, slides and the interesting discussion on Cloudworks:
You can view more about the conference on the Fifth International Blended Learning Conference Cloudscape