Blended Learning

The weather is very cold and foggy today.
It is raining and freezing.
I took a picture of the cars.
It was misty and dark.

Here's another example of a blended learning task.

I pulled a number of passages from this learner's Y!360 blog and copied them twice into a Word document (actually, an Abiword document - but let that go for now). The first copy I left as is: the second I turned into a series of cloze exercises. (In cloze exercises, learners fill in the blanks from a word list to complete a written passage; see below*.)

The learner and I read through the first series of posts together, and then I showed her how to do the cloze and left her to it. Several of the passages were about weather, and so the third task I gave her was to write a sentence or two about today's weather.

When it came to the writing, she composed two first-draft sentences using the words "cold" and "rainy" each time. We stopped then and talked about other words that meant the same thing. Any words she came up with I wrote on the whiteboard. Then she re-drafted her piece, changing and adding words. She typed it out (in OpenOffice Writer), and I helped her use the spellcheck to check her spelling. Then she read it aloud to make sure it sounded okay. The result is copied above.

So far, this classwork made good use of modern word-processing and printing. However, I happened to have my digital camera and UBS cable with me: that opened up another possibility.

When she was done writing about the weather, I invited her outside to take a picture (above). We transferred the image to a classroom computer (where I enhanced it a bit using the free ifranview software) and then posted it and her writing up on her Y!360. In the process, she added a line about taking the picture.

So, word processing and printing, digital photography, and online posting or publishing: these are the mix of tools we used for this one day's learning.

The exercise also involved visual, auditory and kinostetic-tactile learning, and touched on composition, spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension and computer skills. It took about 2 hours, plus about 15 minutes prep time on my part. About half of it happened independently enough that I was free to help other learners in class. Some of it was based on very traditional adult literacy work: e.g., encouraging learners to write experience stories, or re-using learner's own writings as cloze exercises. Some of it was very modern indeed. That, too, is blended learning.

* from
A cloze test is a comprehension exercise involving a text with certain words deleted and needing to be replaced. The word cloze derives from closure in Gestalt theory [1]. The exercise was first described by W.L. Taylor in 1953[2]. [Cloze] is dependent on a person's ability to utilize context and knowledge of vocabulary in order to identify the correct words that belong in the deleted passages of a text.


literacies publisher said...

Hey Wendell - I checked out your blogs. They are great. I added this one and the poetry changes nothing to our blogs of not list.

Have you heard of AlphaRoute? I work with them sometimes doing online course for adult literacy students from all over Ontario. Some students from NB tried it out a while ago. I think that your research is going to be a great resource for us.

We are going to the Laubach conference in June to work with learners so that they can develop their own online courses in AlphaRoute.

Phil Wilson said...

This is brilliant. I just love seeing how the digital world can be integrated into the real world - there's real crossover, love it!

Wendell said...

Thks Phil. Just send money!