The whole concept of blended learning is that the learners take on the responsibility of completing preparatory tasks at home; the lesson in class can then apply this learning. This is why some teachers say that a computer lab for the in-class component is unnecessary. However, I’d hazard a guess that these instructors do not work within an ESL framework.
That said, Thursday’s in-class time was stilted by the lack of basic computer skills by at least half of the learners. In an online typing test, several learners scored less than 5 WPM. They also had difficulties with concepts such as “cut and paste” and “undo”. Many could not manipulate a mouse with any real degree of accuracy.
The other half of the class watched in weary resignation as instructor time was centered on those without basic computer skills. I floated back and forth between the two groups (split, interestingly, right down the middle of the computer lab – the right side, capable, the left side, struggling).
My colleague and I now both have a much clearer picture of the abilities of the students in the classroom. We will be able to direct the advanced learners on to more complicated tasks related to business writing within the classroom time. Spending more time working with less advanced group will be critical to their success. At this point, we have two instructors (for at least half of the time), so we can be on two pages at once (literally, and figuratively).
We never got to register the learners in Blended Learning. Thursday was essentially Day 1 – and there was simply no time. We were still fielding registrations, new learners, etc.
Next Week’s goals: Tuesday:
• Distribute the Collaborative Project and “choose” teams. (Teams have already been decided). Allow learners some time to brainstorm and plan, exchange email contact info…
• REGISTER on D2L and assign first D2L tasks
• CREATE blogs for reflective journals
• Begin the “writing” modules
I think it would have been a good idea to have screened the learners prior to the start of the course – not to block low-level students, but to be prepared for them.