To be or not to be…student engagement?

Norm Vaughan was one of the key note speakers on the second day of the ASCILITE 2012 conference. The 3 Rs of engagement are relevance, rigour, and relationships (Dennis Littky, 2004 The student sense of wonder and inquiry are key to engagement, but with depth, and built around relationships and communities.

Optimal flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus. Taken along side Daniel Pink’s notions of autonomy, mastery and purpose, this can provide a powerful foundation for creating a series of instruments about what flow looks like. Social engagement, academic engagement and intellectual engagement are key – the move away from a sense of ‘jumping through the hoops’.

Blended learning is the organic integration of thoughtfully selected and complementary face-to-face and online approaches and technologies…and this is closely links to fundamental re-design. Blended learning in a weak sense is simply an additional layer to current teaching practices. Putting together various technologies, there are some great examples of the use of non-institutional social platforms, where the focus is on empowerment, collaboration and co-construction of knowledge.

Local mentors are paramount to support people on the ground when implementing blended learning to help address challenges. It is also about the networks that you develop. The five clusters to help shape blended learning are:

  • Active and collaborative learning,
  • student interactions with faculty members,
  • level of academic challenge,
  • enriching educational experiences
  • supportive campus environment.
Workload (overwhelming), out of class time and inquiry based learning are linked to the least effective aspects of courses.
Blended learning using the guidelines that were introduced in this session, Norm advises, can provide the scaffolding that can support students in a move toward more autonomous  collaborative learning experience and skill-set.

About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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