Free DIY Blended Learning Platforms For Your E-Learning Needs

Free DIY Blended Learning Platforms For Your E-Learning Needs

How are you preparing your learners/trainers for the 21st century problem solving and the collaborative world?

While determining contemporary content and topics for teaching are important, no educator can afford to ignore generic skills and the teaching strategy to help learners develop such skills.

In India, online learning has taken up a big market share and is disrupting the traditional way people learn and teach. But did you know pure online learning misses on the key aspect of learning - Teacher’s presence and the learner-learner F2F interaction in the classroom. Thus, evaluating educational technology from a pedagogical perspective in important.

Online learning as a facet of Blended learning may offer greater impact. Blended Learning strategies often involve the “organic integration of thoughtful selected and complementary F2F and online teaching approaches” Garrison and Vaughn (2008). It combines F2F oral and online written communication such that students are fully engaged, and module objectives are fulfilled in ways that are not possible if either learning modes were taught individually. In short, BL leverages on the affordances of online and F2F learning for optimized learning.

In this regard, I turn to discussing Learning management platforms like Google Classroom and MS Teams for collaborative blended learning and team building. Bonus: these are free for education institutions.

So what is an Learning Management Platforms (LMPs)? Typically, a software to deploy and track online teaching and learning initiatives. LMPs often feature as enterprise EdTech tools in Higher Education Institutions as well as in Corporate settings. LMPs allow for the e-designing and e-authoring of lessons, uploading of assets as well as the ease of accessibility for learning beyond the F2F classroom. Many LMP’s facilitate collaborative learning, allowing for learner-learner and teacher-learner interactions, real time multiple group projects to be stored online too.  Bonus: MS Teams allows the same for corporate settings as well.

Best practices of Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams to help you design your BL

  • Going paperless, not just in designing and reviewing lessons, but in distributing worksheets, collecting and correcting assignments as well.
  • Providing immediate constructive feedback, annotations as well as reminding learners to resubmit work
  • Impromptu quizzes, resource sharing and plagiarism check
  • On-demand result compilation, and marks entry. With digitized assignments and all grades in one place, these learning platforms enable teachers and trainers to collate and create result spreadsheets and presentations with the click of a button.
  • Personalizing learning for your learners, rather having to give hardcopies, and asking learners what they find difficult, creating different classes for different subjects, materials, learning levels and learning needs, which one can distribute at the press of a button is likely to save time and resources.
  • Learning on the go and the classroom in your pocket, with LMP’s being accessible on any device, facilitating learning anytime anywhere is possible.
  • Working in Offline mode comes in handy when internet is weak or non existent.
  • Empowering every student with the inclusive education features that both Google and Microsoft have to offer.
  • Carefully blending synchronous and asynchronous activities such that learning is optimized is where the role of the teacher is of utmost importance. In this case, using these LMP’s as a space for meaningful collaborative discussions, or project work where learners learn directly from industry (webinars) can be a value add.
  • Managing learner behavior online is just as important, as it is in a f2f context. This may include, making learners responsible in this shared space, and ensuring tasks remains on track are considerations that the online facilitator needs to be mindful of.
  • Leveraging on the community of practice and continued professional development spaces that these LMPs offer for teachers.

Like with any other tool, one should also be wary of the challenges in using it. 

  • Getting started with any platform has its teething troubles. It can be overwhelming initially, thus give yourself enough time to explore its features.
  • Sound internet connectivity for synchronous activities.

Do you need an LMP training to get you started? Probably not. Allocating time and following the online trainer guides will get you started. Happy to chat with anyone keen to use these LMP’s, drop me a message below.

Finally, remembering that these learning management platforms should not turn out to be a mere repository of content is paramount. Think through your learning design and how you want these LMP’s to be truly collaborative learning spaces.

About the Author
Nilanjana, is a learning design professional, having worked on the implementation of innovative educational & training delivery solutions in a variety of settings. She started her professional career as a school teacher teaching Chemistry and running summer science camps. Her interest in education innovation prompted her to transition from classroom teaching to learning design which took her to Australia where she read the Masters in Learning Sciences & Technology from the University of Sydney. While in Sydney, she gained valuable experience while working at OpenLearning and Pallas advanced Learning Systems, both of which are upcoming edtech startups in Australia. Currently, she is pursuing passion of creating effective learning experiences which are research informed and practically relevant. When not working, she likes to read, travel, cook and getting close to nature. You can tweet her @NilanjanaSaxena

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