Communication between teacher and learner, and learner to learner is an essential part of the learning experience. Considering and planning opportunities for communication is a vital aspect in designing a blended or online unit.
Social presence is important in blended learning as it creates an integration between the face-to-face and online environments. Regardless of the mode of your unit, it is important to be conscious of finding ways to maintain a dialogue with students.
Developing a learning community
Strategies to create a community in blended units:
Visit, monitor and contribute to online discussion forums
Reference online forum content in face-to-face sessions
Use synchronous web-conferencing with group discussion
share a course plan with the students that shows the path they will take through the content, and how various parts integrate with each other
Common language in blended learning communication
Definition and use
communication in real-time, whether face-to-face or virtual
commonly facilitated by web-conferencing (Adobe Connect, Zoom, Skype)
creates social presence/community
able to ask questions
minimises sense of isolation (particularly for online learners)
communication happens at a time suitable for the user
commonly facilitated by discussion boards and email
appeals to learners with competing commitments (family, work etc)
allows learners time to refine and reflect before sharing contributions
blending face-to-face, online synchronous and asynchronous learning seamlessly
students in face-to-face situations able to communicate with others in face-to-face and virtual locations
all of the above
useful for when learners are in a variety of locations
Sources: Hrastinski (2008); HigherEdIQ (2015); New Media Consortium (2016).
ACU academics speak
In the online classroom I do some delivery of content in short lectures, but primarily through conversation using the different modes of communication the online classroom presents. We use virtual whiteboards where people can write on the whiteboard and we use chat facilities
Professor Clare Johnson - Centre for Liturgy & Prof of Liturgical Studies & Sacramental Theology. To watch Clare's full case study follow the link.