Blended Learning is known as a disruptive innovation, not least because emerging educational technologies cannot just be bolted onto an outdated industrial system of education without a fundamental shift in how we teach and learn. The advent and development of the World Wide Web impacts every facet of society, including education.  New learning media emerge daily with the proliferation of Web 2.0 applications, mobile devices and social media - all of which has spawned a new kind of learner profile.  We would be foolish to ignore the ubiquitous nature of technology and its impact on the places, spaces and ways in which knowledge builds and learning constructs.

Globally, there are relatively few educators who are taking the lead in exploring new learning spaces and technologies that enhance learning. This is especially true of the traditional higher education sector compared to the schooling sector where the rise of K12 Blended Learning is growing exponentially. Researchers and academics like George Siemens, author of Connectivism (an emerging learning theory) are laying the theoretical foundation to guide us through the transformation and Siemens' point is profound:  "It is not about the tools....it is about the change."

This page is designed to support and encourage the development of your teaching craft in a connected world. Applied principles of connectivism and emerging networked learning theories should inform the nature of the shift that needs to start (one strategic step at a time) in your classroom. The visuals and commentary provided here will be regularly updated and serve to bring to you curated content and opinion for your comment and discussion. Soon we hope to see posts here by members of this learning community.



Picture yourself rushing to class, carrying piles of Photostats on that article/case study/exercise that is planned for the class. Balancing these piles with books and a laptop, pencil case and maybe that cup of tea that you just didn’t manage to have time to finish.

Does it feel familiar? I am sure that we all can identify with that scenario. Well, software designers have come up with a variety of solutions, it is called a ‘Content Management System’ (CMS). These systems allow the teacher or lecturer to upload course content, notes and a variety of other resources to assist the students. However, not many of these solutions offer additional support in terms of the pedagogy that the teacher or lecturer uses. One such CMS that does offer this is CourseSites, an online free solution that not only offers the ability to store all those articles, case studies and video clips, but furthermore offers tools to assist in creating an environment for blended learning.



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Have you ever had a subject that is filled with important dates, and found that it would be impossible to make it fun to deliver to the students? Wondered how you could explain how a concept evolved over time, or had to simplify an evolution of sorts? Only then to panic at the thought of delivering this dry content, which will surely put the students to sleep?

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Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012

Digital Learning Design

Anne Whaits, Academic Manager at Varsity College, is a teaching and learning specialist and is currently driving and supporting the adoption of technology enhanced learning.

She recently did a presentation for the Independent Schools ‘Deputy Heads’ Association (ISDHA) at StAndrews College in Grahamstown, South Africa on 14 September 2012. The presentation is thought provoking and showcases how teaching and learning design has shifted into a new and exciting space.

Awesome Powerpoint Presentations

Many lecturers use PowerPoint presentations to visually engage their students as key concepts are discussed in class. Others...well is it a case of "death by ppt" with too many bullets, too much text and too few images? There are many ways to design awesome presentations, embed videos without live streaming, fill with great creative commons images, visual prompts, screenshots and more. Here are a few suggestions to help you make your PowerPoints awesome and a few alternative presentation tools! If you have some of your own to add, please share them in the comments section at the end of this post.

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Making videos educational

I have seen the value of incorporating videos into my lectures, especially to breathe meaning and life into a lesson. That said, I have also found that I am not always very purposeful about it and there are various reasons for this, some of which include: “I need to add an activity, quick let’s download a YouTube clip” or “Good golly gosh, this is boring, lets jazz it up with a video” or “I am tired of doing all the talking, let’s get someone else to drone on about the work”. Granted, these all have their merit, but these cannot be the only criteria we use to find and (critically) evaluate a video or video clip.

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Digital Annotation using Adobe Reader X

The format of the book has evolved with the times, but it seems that note taking has been left behind, not quite in the dark ages, but it has not reached the digital age, quite yet.  Granted, we no longer use a chisel to make notes in the margins of our stone tablets, then why do we insist on using highlighters and paper in a time of digital books, e-publications and readers?

The presentation, “Digital Annotation: Note taking should evolve with the book” is a brief introduction to digital annotation in order to build toward digital fluency. It touches on various applications and/or productivity tools, like Evernote, Diigo and Dropbox, but the focus is mainly on Adobe Reader X.

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2012 IIE Celebration of Teaching and Learning

Anne Olsen is a full time lecturer and Technology enhanced Learning Designer and Champion at the Port Elizabeth Campus. A passionate educator, Anne's innovative approach to teaching earned her recognition as a finalist in the 2011 IIE Teaching Awards and is further reflected in her paper and associated presentation.  Enjoy!

Learning in a Digital Age: the myth and the reality

Professor Steve Wheeler, University of Plymouth UK: "I recently gave a keynote at the eLearning 2.0 conference held at Brunel University, in West London. The presentation was a reworked version of one I gave earlier in the year in Tallinn, Estonia. In Learning in a Digital Age: The Myth and the Reality, I present a number of widespread beliefs about elearning, and challenge the provenance, reasoning and application of these theories. Learning styles, digital natives and immigrants theory, and the arguments that you cannot personalise learning in large organisations; or that SMS txting is dumbing down language; are all scrutinised and challenged. Brunel University did an excellent job of recording my voice and the slides, and synchonising them, probably using Camtasia or a similar tool. Here it is in full, for those who want to follow the arguments and discussion that ensued."

The Winning Philosophy

Craig Fortuin, a full time lecturer at the Varsity College Cape Town campus, exhibits how lecturers can 'move out of the textbook and into the lives of their students'.  It is for this reason, and various others, that Craig was awarded the first annual Dr. Freysen Teaching Excellence Award by the Independent Institute of Education (IIE). 

When Craig presented his teaching philosophy at the IIE Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference I was privileged to be present at the conference and experienced his energy and 'quirkyness' first hand, or as Craig puts it, his "passion" and "personality". 

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