Virtual Learning Environments
Blended teaching is a term used to describe a situation where a traditional classroom environment integrates online teaching and learning. The research literature indicates that this kind of blending of activity is more effective and less labour intensive than trying to move all resources onto the VLE.
At Pius X School the teachers used the VLE to support their face-to-face teaching in a variety of ways including uploading assessment rubrics so that students could independently assess themselves. In addition the VLE allowed the students to record their reflections in the online forums and because the online forums were available to the teacher at anytime she could provide ongoing feedback.
Another teacher described the way in which the myclasses system supported their class across the curriculum. Not only could the teacher upload resources such as videos and links to websites but the students could upload files such as their PowerPoint presentations.
I make up a page at the start of the term... we can actually put video on there... They have links to sites they want and they need. They can put PowerPoints on there, so everything's stored on the one page. So when we're doing our inquiry work they go straight there and do it, and we have one for each unit of work. We also have a page – a class page, and what happens there is, all the maths links and the literacy links are there, and we have photos of our class and all that sort of stuff up there. So the kids go straight on there, and they email as well. So they're doing emails recently, but in my class' case we have forums, so the kids can write up reflections, and we can write to them as well. (Years 2/3 and 3/4 Teachers, St Pius X School)
It was also reported that through a blended learning approach, coupled with a school wide professional development strategy the teachers felt positive about the use of ICTs in the improved educational outcomes of their students. This perception is supported by an independent study by Dr Jean Russell in 2005:
The study found that trial teachers, with their experience of professional development and practice in the use of the myclasses learning management system (LMS), have made significantly greater gains than control teachers in their use of constructivist pedagogy and in aspects of teacher collaboration. Trial teachers also showed significantly stronger development in their attitudes and beliefs about learning. Trial students, relative to control students, demonstrated significant positive change in their approaches to learning during the project. Their levels of engagement and motivation, compared with those of control students, also increased significantly. (Russell, 2005, p. 56)
Online resources for follow-up:
(as time passes these links may become defunct)
BECTA. (2004). What the research says about Virtual Learning Environments in teaching and learning [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 5th May 2008, from www.becta.org.uk/research
Carey, P. (2004). On Trial: Le@rning Federation learning objects [Electronic Version]. Login, 1-3. Retrieved 15th May 2008, from http://www.ecawa.asn.au/login/2004/vol1/Peter_Carey.pdf
Russell, J. (2005). Use of a Learning Management System (myclasses) in the Classroom [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 1st May 2008, from http://web.cecv.vic.catholic.edu.au/reseminar/seminars/seminars5-8/othersem8.pdf