Although I have heard about blended learning (Cleveland-Innes & Wilton, 2018) for some years now, I have not been enthusiastic in applying it. To be clear, I value the benefit of using online platform to enhance learning. I have been practicing it, too. I have put my teaching materials online, I have posted the learning schedule of my modules online, and I consciously make connection between the information that I put online and the teaching delivery that I conduct face-to-face. Having said all this, I am also mindful (and ponder) that shifting teaching materials into an online platform may not automatically earn me a badge in blended learning.
Following ONL webinar and discussions on “Design for Online and Blended Learning”, I came to know the 5-stage model for online learning to be successful (Salmon, n.d.). This has not only validated my earlier thinking that blended learning is much more than going online but has also provided me with a framework and realisation that there is a lot more for me to do if I am to design my modules in a blended learning approach.
Reflecting on how I have started my module preparation using online platform and referencing to the 5-stage model, I have spent a lot of effort in “Access” but not on “Motivation”. The module preparation in the 5-stage model, which is Stage 1 “Access and Motivation”, has called for interaction with students by welcoming and encouraging them. The motivating part, where instructors facilitate the creation of emotional presence in learners, is something that I have mostly left to the students and facilitated by checking how students are rather than actively encouraging them.
The presence of emotion in learning has been discussed in the Community of Inquiry framework, too, which I recently came across (Rienties & Rivers, 2014). Emotional Presence is in addition to the Social, Teaching and Cognitive Presence that have been established in the earlier model (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000).
Moving forward, I am studying this research-based model and look at enlarging the support that I can give to students in terms of Emotional Presence. I am balancing the need to support students and to let them be independent learners. This is not any more different than how instructors have traditionally been supporting students, but I suppose require more deliberate effort especially if instructors are not trained in providing one.
There is a difference between blended learning and emergency remote teaching (Hodges, Moore, Lockee, Trust, & Bond, 2020). Providing Emotional Presence may well be one of the key differences between the two.
Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, M. (2020). The Difference between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning.
Cleveland-Innes, M., & Wilton, D. (2018). Guide to Blended Learning. Burnaby, British Columbia: Commonwealth of Learning.
Salmon, G. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html
Rienties, B., & Rivers, B. (2014). Measuring and Understanding Learner Emotions: Evidence and Prospects. Learning Analytics Community Exchange.
Garrison, D., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical Inquiry in a Text-based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education. The Internet and Higher Education, 88.