Blended Delivery Case Study
Charlie Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
Overview of Self-Access and CALL
- Immigration requires all International students to be enrolled on full time courses and for English schools this translates to at least 25 hours a week.
- 25 hours a week is problematical for two reasons.
Intensive language instruction is exhausting and can therefore be counterproductive.
- Due to these practical considerations Australian language schools break up the 25 hours by the use of self-access resources and CALL classes. Due to this many Australian language centres have experience of blended delivery.
Background of the institution
- Well established Self-Access Learning Resources Centre, with in-house materials and 10 networked computers. Primary language software was Storyboard.
- Recent Multimedia lab, with 18 networked computers, Tandberg system, TV and VCR. This also had free space for tables and group work
- 28 to 60 years old.
- Most staff between 40 to 50.
- 30/70 contract/sessional split.
- Limited exposure to ICT.
- Predominantly Asian with a significant proportion of Middle Eastern students.
- Mostly interested in Postgraduate study.
- Some students went on to FE as they were unable to progress through the bridging courses.
- No IELTS score necessary, all moderation of skills was in-house.
- I mainly taught students in higher intermediate classes. IELTS 4 and upwards.
- They had 3 hours in the multimedia lab, and one hour self-access.
Goal: To integrate a wide range of ICT into a pre-existing EAP curriculum
- To increase student autonomy.
- To improve use of the Multimedia lab.
- To improve ICT skills among teaching staff.
- Increased materials input from teaching staff.
Goal: To heighten awareness of ICT and educational innovation in language instruction.
- Encourage analysis of existing systems.
- Investigate possible solutions to EAP and student specific problems.
Staff levels of ICT literacy were assessed by the use of a questionnaire
Source enough material to support existing and new staff in the curriculum by using:
- Established 3rd party resources.
- Centre developed exercises and learning material.
Choosing 3rd Party Resources:
Criteria, in order of importance:
- Stability, did the site appear to be professional and therefore well maintained? This reduced the possibility of problems for inexperienced teachers.
- Choice, did the site offer enough material to support a variety of levels? Does it offer topics that will support material covered in class? This meant that students would be able to access resources on their own.
- Quality, did the site offer reasonable quality materials?
Criteria, in order of importance:
- Integration with the current curriculum.
- Support for students’ weaknesses.
- Storyboard exercises were modified to fit different exercise styles.
- Frontpage, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash were available for staff. As was an authorable exercise maker.
- Although the original website is no longer maintained, some of the resources are available on www.parapal-online.co.uk/eap.htm.
Making Resources Accessible:
"Marketing" the resources:
- We had desktop shortcuts to the resources in the library and lab.
- A single entrance page was used for all the resources.
- I tried to make the site easy to navigate.
- Using a variety of communication channels to inform staff of materials.
Meetings, handbooks, e-mails etc.
Where to put the resources?
VLE or public server?
University Virtual Learning Environment. (Blackboard, WebCT, Web Crossing etc.)
Advanced student tracking.
Integrated communication facilities.
Integrated testing facilities(?)
Students need to have logins organised.
Material "belongs" to the institution.
Public web server (staff or department web page.)
Material "belongs" to the department or individual teachers.
Flexible access for updating materials.
May not have any tracking at all.
May have limited size.
May have limited support for media.
A staff web site was chosen because
- Organising logins for all staff and students would have been difficult (5 and 10 week student enrolments).
- The University VLE had a rigid structure for uploading material. (They generally expect entire courses to be created before they actually start)
- The University required staff to attend training courses before the use of the VLE.
Staff development is going to be essential in most organisations. But in which areas?
- Specific ICT skills (Using Web applications, discussion boards, online exercises and web searching)
- Pedagogy of blended delivery
- General ICT skills (Microsoft Windows and Office)
Problems in Staff Development
ICT staff development was difficult to organise
- Different teachers had different timetables.
- It was non-compulsory and had to be held after classes.
Specialist IT (1) Familiarity. This staff development was conducted with groups.
Using browsers and online resources.
- Coping with multiple windows, saving pages etc.
- Evaluating sources and using search engines.
Specialist IT (2) Authoring. This was conducted in groups and with individual.
Using HTML editors and exercise authoring tools.
- Creating basic electronic documents with Frontpage or Dreamweaver can be very simple.
- Using freely available online resources allows for the creation of interactive exercises
- These documents can then be passed on to more experienced users to be made accessible.
Specialist IT (3) Administering. This was conducted with individuals.
Uploading to a web server (VLE or other) to make the materials accessible.
- This is generally more complicated than creating documents in the first place as it requires an understanding of the relationships between files.
- However, access to this type of service is generally restricted anyway, and only one or two members of staff need to be able to do it.
General IT. Windows and Office
- Staff may require file management, word processing and basic spreadsheet skills to complete administrative functions.
- Staff may feel that their "office" skills are low and therefore they cannot "progress" to what they consider to be more advanced applications
- Universities generally provide courses in these skills to staff members
- Familiarity with Microsoft Word is not a prerequisite for using HTML editors. Frontpage often seems much more predictable than Word as it doesn’t have so many automatic features.
Of the three types of staff development this one became the most important.
- Even though benefits of using ICT as a pedagogical tool may appear obvious, it is essential for staff to understand improvements in teaching and learning it may bring.
- In most EAP courses essential information is communicated to students through the class teacher/s.
- Teaching staff will be unable to promote new services effectively if they cannot see teaching and learning benefits.
Evolution of the Staff Development (1)
Originally it was intended to concentrate on specialist IT.
- Group demonstrations of resources, both in-house and 3rd party.
- Introduction to, and basic training on, authoring software was promoted to individual staff.
Evolution of the Staff Development (2)
Windows and Office skills became necessary.
- On a day to day basis staff required help with Word documents.
- Problems in these areas seemed to restrict progress in creating online resources.
Evolution of the Staff Development (3)
Pedagogy became more important.
- Pedagogy had been incorporated as an aside in practical demonstrations.
- Important to have sessions solely dealing with teaching and learning.
- There needs to be a development plan with clear goals in place.
- Time for staff development is essential.
- There need to be follow up sessions and some ways of motivating staff to use new skills.
- As many staff as possible need to be integrated into the design and evaluation of resources.
- If possible staff computers should be organised in a single area so that peer support can take place.