The following practices outline the ten best practice to guide an educator's initial blended experience. Practices are research based and adapted from the Online Teaching Survival Guide by Judith Boettcher and Rita-Marie Conrad. Adaptations are designed for adult learning populations and adult education context. Adaptions are provided by Mockingbird Education.
Best Practice 1: Be present for 'just in time' feedback and support.
The best educators for learners who are working with technology instruction are available for 'just in time' support. Just in time support means that educators are present immediately when learners need support. Research on presence suggests that are three types of presence: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence.
Learners need educators to be present in some way --every day of instruction. This is critical for learners who interact with a computer more than they interact with an instructor. An educator must connect with educators on a daily basis and additionally, educators must not wait until learners ask questions to reach and provide support. Effective instructors reach out to learners BEFORE learners ask for support. This is critical for struggling and adult education learners who are receiving a large amount of support from the technology platform.
Best Practice 2: Create a supportive online course community .
If learners are accessing technology outside of class hours, make sure that learners have a strong online course community to find support and resources. Consider a blog, discussion posts, and other means of tehcnology support to provide off site support for learners.
Best Practice 3: Develop a set of explicit expectations for your learners and yourself in regards to technology interaction and classroom interactions and behavior.
The concept of daily practice is critical for learners who are building skill proficiency. It is critical that educators use logistical tools to check learner's technology time. Educators must continually check with learners to see if learners are reaching milestones and progress on technology so additional classroom support can be provided if needed. These expectations must be continually communicated to learners.
Best Practice 4: Use a variety of large group, small group, and individual experiences.
A learning community works better when a variety of activities and experiences are offered.
Best Practice 5: Use synchronous and asynchronous activities.
Sometimes there is nothing better than a real time interactive brainstorming and sharing discussion; at other times, the requirement to think, plan, write, and reflect is what makes learning most effective for an individual. Technology for the sake of technology is not effective learning. It is important to blend technology with real time activities that meet learners' needs.
Best Practice 6: Ask for informal feedback early from learners.
Early feedback surveys or informal discussions are effective in getting learners to provide feedback on what is working well and solicit suggestions and ideas on what might help them have a better course experience.
Best Practice 7: Prepare discussion posts that invite responses, questions, discussions, and, reflections.
If you are using technology for instruction , having a site dedicated to discussion during the course of learning, provides an additional layer of support for learners.
Best Practice 8: Search out and use content resources that are available in digital format if possible.
To support anywhere, anytime learning, consider providing all classroom activities and resources in a digital format and make these resources accessible online. Adult learners need learning to be available anywhere and anytime, and often while they are doing other things, such as driving, taking care of children, working, etc. Providing digital resources helps learners access learning outside of class hours,
Best Practice 9: Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning
Technology cannot provide the answer to all learning needs. It is critical to supplement and support technology with the lessons, experiences, and classroom interactions. Educators need to identify the core concepts to be learned and then guide and mentor learners through a set of personalized and customized learning activities. Sometimes these activities are best supported with learning activities outside of technology.
Best Practice 10: Plan a good closing and wrap up activity for each day.
Learners need to feel connected to their educators, their learning program, and their peers. Take time to plan a closing activity that reconnects learners and motivates learners to look forward to the next day's class