Experiences of Implementing a Large-Scale Blended, Flipped Learning Project

Experiences of Implementing a Large-Scale Blended, Flipped Learning Project

Hazel Owen (Ethos Consultancy NZ, New Zealand) and Nicola Dunham (Massey University, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch333
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Abstract

In the context of ongoing global adoption of all forms of technology eLearning has continued to evolve, informed by a growing body of research. Many schools, tertiary institutions, and other organisations, are implementing a variety of eLearning initiatives, although, frequently it appears the investment does not always equate to more engaged, knowledgeable, skilled learners. Tertiary education in Aotearoa, New Zealand covers all post-secondary education and is analogous to the term Higher Education in other countries. This chapter draws on the implementation of a large-scale blended, flipped learning project at a tertiary institution in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The project (within the Health Science faculty) was driven by a desire to improve student learning experiences, and develop a common semester with a suite of interdisciplinary postgraduate qualifications. The discussion is based on personal reflections, which provide different perspectives of the initial phases, from three participants in the associated study (two of whom are also the authors of this chapter). During the project two key prevalences were observed. The first was an ingrained set of beliefs, often unquestioned, that shaped overall expectations of what an eLearning experience might comprise. Interpretations and implications are discussed using the lens of mindsets to illustrate how beliefs of ‘self' fundamentally influence a person's ability to embrace - and thrive in - a period of change. The second prevalence was a familiarity with large-scale, ‘monolithic' eLearning developments, which translated into discomfort with an agile approach. The overall aim of this chapter is to provide sufficient detail to draw educators and administrators together to apply the recommendations offered, while providing support for 'change agents' - as well as those ambivalent about reform. The authors are keen to highlight how ultimately rewarding, but also emotionally and physically demanding, the implementation of reform can be for those educators on 'the front lines'.
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Background

This section provides an overview of the context and scope of the project. The project was driven by initiatives to improve student learning experiences; enhance interdisciplinary education; introduce a common semester; and develop a new Masters level course and a Professional Doctorate (Owen, & Dunham, 2015). One caveat was that technology itself would do nothing to enhance learning and teaching; as such, sound pedagogical theory and eLearning principles (Weidert, 2012) needed to be driving forces. It was also recognised that the change would impact professional identity, and therefore require flexible management and responsive processes.

The three participants in the study (two of whom are also the authors of this chapter) worked closely together on the project, and have been involved for many years with facilitation, teacher professional development (PD), and curriculum design. One has been working within the eLearning field for almost 15 years. As participants they undertook key roles, and were able to provide perspectives on, and insights into, motivations, challenges, and PD needs.

The remit was to design, develop and implement a blended, flipped approach to interdisciplinary learning. As such, the project team worked with subject matter experts, writers, and curriculum editors to redesign curricula. The design included discovery-orientated tasks that learners were encouraged to engage with prior to attending regular facilitated synchronous sessions (either face-to-face or in a webinar). Design and facilitation were flipped to focus on the learners and encourage them to find and create their own resources, as well as engage with, guide and 'teach' their peers. Prior learning could be extended by facilitators and peers - especially important in courses where students may already be working and have years of experience. Interdisciplinary learning was integrated by encouraging learners to explore from multiple practice and discipline perspectives.

As part of the change process a new centre was established in May 2014. The centre ensured a reasonable amount of autonomy, so that while the ‘what’ was directed by the executive team, the ‘how’ was more for the project team to decide. As such, they were able to, for example, trial an agile collaborative approach to writing and development. The course writing and design process, built around iterative cycles, shifted from being the sole responsibility of individual lecturers to become a team-based, collaborative and transparent approach at all levels: from writing and design, to the facilitation of the courses (Figure 1).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Change Management: Approaches, strategies and frameworks used to support the people-side of change to achieve an institution’s required outcomes.

Mindset: Set of attitudes held by someone, which in the context of this chapter relate specifically to intelligence and learning.

Flipped Learning: Shifting the focus of learning from the facilitator to the learner, partly by reversing what happens inside and outside of a formal learning session.

Blended Learning: Learning facilitated through a variety of modes of delivery, styles of learning, and transparent communication (on- and off-campus).

Iterative: Approach for arriving at desired result by repeating a cycle of processes.

Agile: A flexible approach, where the focus is small-scale but functioning releases of a course / product. These releases are evaluated, and improvements integrated.

Project Management: Methodical approach to planning and guiding a project.

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