Project update: Co-creating a blended learning flow
This year, I’ve been reaching out to literacy and basic skills (LBS) educators to gather front-line perspectives on technology integration, mainly through the lens of lesson planning and teaching practices. It’s clear that the field has shifted from emergency remote delivery and is now steeped in fresh insights, approaches, lessons learned and a desire to collaborate — that’s where our new Skills for Success project and the opportunity to co-create planning tools and curricular supports comes in! We’ve given you glimpses of this project in Alan’s January message and when the team introduced me in March. Today, as we wrap up the consultation phase of this work and get ready to move into the next phase, I’m reporting back on some key findings and project directions.
Key themes that emerged from speaking with educators
Through focus groups and one-on-one conversations, I’ve spoken with 23 adult literacy educators and nine program administrators from local programs and school boards in Ontario. Your peers — whether they’re back in the classroom, teaching online or using a hybrid model — are looking for creative ways to incorporate meaningful technology into their sessions, based on an understanding of the engaging flow of activities that makes a good lesson and organically hones skills that adult learners bring.
We’re hearing that many of you would welcome planning routines that are pedagogically sound, thoughtful and deliberate — that consider variability in the learners, in their devices or digital access and in their needs. Educators want planning templates and routines that are modifiable, grab-and-go, easy to reuse, complement a predictable lesson flow and are focused on relevant, practical topics.
Several additional themes emerged from our conversations, including the following:
- Learners are becoming more aware of technology tools, features and options.
- Educators’ comfort levels with teaching and technology vary.
- Collaboration and sharing between educators are less robust post-pandemic because they are not in the same location as frequently.
- We need to be aware of our learners’ needs and how they function in digital spaces outside class.
- Post-pandemic, the shifts in our practices can now be driven by creativity and collaboration (rather than an urgent response).
Materials to help integrate technology into a lesson flow for learning
As we move into the next phase of co-designing materials, we know that we need to consider learners’ needs, differentiated instruction principles and the variety of group dynamics within a session (online or face to face). The co-designed lesson-planning companion resources that will be created, therefore, can’t be prescriptive, but would make engagement through digital integration that enhances learning and self-direction a key focus. Curriculum in the form of workbooks, open educational resources (OER) and modules are already out there — you’ve indicated that you need resources that guide decisions about effectively planning lessons that have an impact.
We also want to highlight existing AlphaPlus supports that can meet some of the needs you’ve identified. For example:
Next step: Co-creating a blended-learning lesson-planning flow
We’re now ready to start building a new product: a blended learning flow that addresses technology integration, thinking routines, lesson planning and stages, engagement strategies, collaboration, reflection and problem-solving. We’re now assembling a small working group that will finalize our initial concept and co-create the product, drawing from their experience with what’s exciting about engaging lessons.
AlphaPlus will contribute expertise (for example, on blended learning, pedagogical models and existing research), participate in co-creation, facilitate the process in the lesson planning stage and provide an online platform for the materials that are designed. This co-creation process will be beneficial and instructive for our field — it’s an opportunity to learn from each other in thinking about our planning routines and how they strengthen blended learning.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project so far. If you’d like more information or are interested in participating in the paid working group, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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