access-933139_1920Let’s see if I can apply the definition of blended learning I came up with in the previous post to a real case. The real case may or may not happen but it is a concrete proposal. I was asked to do some face to face training in a place that most governments of the world classify as a war zone. The topic; how to equip university students to get remote work projects given that …. they live in a war zone with few opportunities. I proposed to offer the 2 day training remotely instead. The organiser is considering this at the moment. The brief would be to prepare the university’s teachers to support their students in getting at least part of their income from remote working. The university has already agreed on the learning outcomes that would need to be covered including:

– develop comprehensive understanding of the concepts and principles of remote and e-work skills
– identify core skills needed for successful e-working to meet international labour market demands
– identify specialised remote e-skills in the fields of IT, languages, architecture or business
– apply fundamental strategies and activities needed to integrate the necessary e-skills into academic curriculum
– network with international remote job agencies/recruiters

In a way, this is the ideal topic area for a remote training and yet I feel strongly that I would like to meet with the participants face to face. That feeling is much stronger than for example when I do online teacher training or coaching. Perhaps this is because I can feel that this is of greater importance to the participants than the sessions I normally do. So this is blended learning at the extreme 100% online end of the spectrum.

The participants will be university staff who will then add, adjust and enhance their courses to enable their students to get a head start in remote working.

Collective action potential

One of the most important aspects would be to help the students create and nurture their professional network to increase their chances of getting work. So one basic skill would be to create a professional profile on Linked In as well as dedicated small job platforms. But LinkedIn works better when you are more active than just posting a profile. So I’m wondering how each cohort of students can work together and with external experts to jump-start their network.

They could consider:

  • trawling Linked In to find relevant possible connections, groups and writers
  • contact a select few to ask them some questions about their industry via messaging
  • contact an even smaller group of experts who could advise them on various aspects of self-employment and marketing in live Skype sessions
  • producing something of value to others in similar situations that is then shared to a targeted audience which they have identified beforehand (could be video, ebook, slide presentation and so on)

Considering the above as possible activities for the students, the staff may consider building a base network from which each new cohort of students can start working with. For example they may set up a network of external mentors who would be willing to give feedback on student projects.

In a way, this example is too easy to work with from a Collective Action point of view because the whole point is to extend the students’ reach beyond their physical location. So there should be no pushback or need for extensive justification to the staff or students. And this works best where there is student voice and choice as ultimately, this is about each student’s earning power and self-fulfilment.

The difficult part will be finding out which parts of the existing pedagogical approach used lend themselves to supporting these learning objectives and where and how they may need to change in order to benefit the students. eg there may need to be a more collaborative and sharing approach amongst the staff to ensure that the whole project hangs together efficiently.

First next step

I think the logical first next step would be for the staff to develop their own online network so that they can draw on their own experience when helping the students. Learning by doing.