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2010 > Junij

Dr. Igor Rižnar: Blended language learning

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Despite the fact that the vast majority of foreign language teaching in Slovenia is still carried out - for various reasons - in face-to-face environments, a growing extent of foreign language teaching in a number of institutions, IBS included, has moved, at least partly, online.

Blended courses move a significant part of course learning online and, as a result, reduce the amount of classroom contact hours and offer a real opportunity to create learning experiences that can provide the right learning at the right time and in the right place for students.

I deeply believe that higher education institutions must provide students with an opportunity to engage their professors and peers in critical and creative reflections and discourse and not hold onto past practices that are incongruent with the needs and demands of a knowledge society. The idea to introduce blended language learning emerged when I became aware that a more experiential, inquiry-based and hands-on learning approach is required and that more responsibility should be transferred to students for their work, i.e. goal setting, record-keeping, monitoring and evaluation. Isolated pieces of information offered by textbooks make learning difficult, because they inevitably lead in rote-learning and regurgitating. Equally important, learning should be fun, despite the fact that for some students learning is - and should be - hard work. Last but not least, learning involves learning to learn, which is too often excluded from textbooks.

It is in a blended language course, that students become the important element in the process of acquiring knowledge, because the teacher's role becomes the role of a facilitator, who is spending more time recommending and directing students to resources and helping them to interpret these resources. In other words, the role of the teacher is, after setting up an appropriate e-Lecture room (say, by using Moodle, which is an effective open source software package designed to help teachers create online courses) to monitor progress, give feedback, boost confidence and maintain motivation.

Blended learning is an important and timely approach to teaching and learning in higher education, not only because it offers the opportunity for higher education to catch up with the communications revolution, but also because it can provide a means to rethink how we teach and learn. On the other hand, when considering blended learning, there is, of course, no single perfect blend - the concept is grounded on the notion of flexibility and with new technologies, the world of teaching and learning is not less complex; on the contrary, it is richer and more demanding.

I am looking forward to seeing you soon in my e-Lecture room.


Dr. Igor Rižnar