Professional Development

Trips and tips… Paris and Blended Learning

Gary Anderson

Our Senior International Teacher Trainer Gary Anderson may be based in our Paris office, but he’s travelled to more than sixty countries and five continents, helping teachers make the most of their potential. In today’s post, he shares some thoughts on blended learning from a session rather closer to home.

I didn’t have to travel far to attend the i-Learning Forum across town here in Paris recently. The trade show billed itself as ‘Technologies at the Service of Learning’ and the attendees were mainly Training and Human Resources managers from businesses.

But the afternoon I attended was devoted to ‘Pedagogical Innovations in Language Learning’, a mini-conference which consisted of case studies from companies involved in blended learning, plus information on the products and platforms they used. Our own blended course, Touchstone/Viewpoint, was on display.

Although the focus was on adult continuing education, principally learners in in-company training, I think the principles discussed can serve for all teachers involved in blended learning for learners of any age.

Here are the four principles I took away, first in French – by way of a brief French lesson! – and then with explanations in English:

1. Abandon

All of the case studies mentioned the phenomenon of learners abandoning and simply giving up if they were only involved in individual 100% online learning.

So there is a definite need for…

2. Suivi

Teachers need to follow their distant learners and give help and input to guide their online learning.

Of course to do that, teachers need…

3. Formation des formateurs

Teacher and trainers need training not only on platforms and products, but also on the pedagogy of how best to give distant guidance and help to online learners.

But even then, something else is missing…

4. Présentielle

The essential need of human contact by the learners via face-to-face classes with their teacher and other learners.

The last point was particularly pleasing because it reminded me of what Earl Stevick, one of my ELT heroes, wrote in Teaching Languages: A Way and Ways back in 1980 before what was once called CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) last century and this century is more often termed TELL (Technology Enhanced Language Learning) even existed: ‘Success in learning depends less on materials and techniques and more on what goes on inside and between people in the classroom.’

Gary will be back soon with more insights from his travels. In the meantime, why not explore Touchstone/Viewpoint in more detail?

Title image by Alastair Horne.

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