Monday, May 22, 2006

Bonk's Blends

Attended a fantastic talk on Blended Learning today at the University of Brighton by Curtis Bonk. He can hold an audience for 1.5 hours as he's entertaining and his slides are data rich. The topic was his new book (see previous post).

Although I take issue with his definition of blended learning, "Blended learning is a combination of face-to-face and online instruction", I do like the book as it contains 39 very diverse papaers. The definition is flawed, I think on two counts, first it is easy to come up with a counter example e.g. reading books. Secondly, it's really a definition of blended INSTRUCTION, not blended learning.

His talks always make me think and it seemed to me, after reading the book and listening to the talk, that Blended learning (for the moment) is really just the learning world coping with the onslaught of new ways of teaching and learning. It's an adaptive response to what's happening to the learning world as the real world changes around them. By real world I mean, changes in attitudes, learner expectations, demographics, politics, but above all massive and rapid change in technology. Blended learning as a concept allows the system to absorb all of this at a sensible pace, as it's a useful bridge between the new and the old.

On the other hand we will have to move beyond blended 'instruction' to true blended 'learning' by recognising the massive role that informal learning does and will increasingly play in learning. The technology is allowing us to do what was simply not possible before.

The talk was an excellent race through many definitions, models, advantages, disadvanteages, theories, examples and practices of blended learning. It was almost overwhelming. Dissapointingly small audience, as Brighton is supposed to be one of the epicentres of e-learning but nice to see some of my colleagues from Epic out in force. Off to see him give another talk at 5 pm. If you can't get to see him try his huge resource base at:

http://php.indiana.edu/~cjbonk/

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