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This content is taken from the University of Leeds & UCL Institute of Education's online course, Blended Learning Essentials: Embedding Practice. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsWelcome to the Blended Learning Essentials course on embedding practice. We called it embedding practice because we're making the assumption that you know something about using digital technology for teaching and learning, and now you want to have a greater impact on your learners' achievements. The course will look at how you can use new technology to tackle some of the very difficult challenges facing the VET sector. And you'll be applying your knowledge of blended learning to planning your future delivery. I'm Diana Laurillard, and I'm working at the London Knowledge Lab, as Professor of Learning with Digital Technologies. I've always been fascinated by what technology can do for improving learning and teaching, but it can be very difficult embedding it in everyday practice.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsThere's a lot to think through, and that's what we aim to do here. I'm Neil Morris, and I'm Director of Digital Learning at the University of Leeds. I'm Professor of Educational Technology in the School of Education at Leeds. This course has being generously funded by the UfI Charitable Trust, because it's their mission to promote this kind of scalable digital solution for vocational learning. The Blended Learning Essentials courses are born out of that mission. And we've worked with a wide range of partners; colleges, employment and learning providers, adult learning centres, and membership organisations in the sector to draw on their experience of how to embed blended learning in every day practice.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 secondsSo whether you're a VET teacher, trainer, leader, or support staff, you'll want to know how best to use technology to evaluate what works for learners and how to track their learning. Then we'll look at how technology can help, by offering more flexible learning, encouraging more independent learning skills, and by sharing and working together, perhaps we can also reduce the cost of innovation. Finally, we look at how the organisation embraces this kind of change. How do you work with your colleagues to make blended learning work most effectively?

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 secondsWe begin by clarifying what we know about how technology enhances learning. You'll be doing some exercises where you use videos of blended learning in action to identify the kinds of difference it can make to learners. One of the interesting and very useful elements of blended learning is that whenever learners use digital methods, there's a chance that the system could collect data about how they're learning. So here, you'll be looking at how we can learn more than usual about the effectiveness of the teaching, and what more learners need. That's just one of the ways we believe it can help you to support your learners' success.

Welcome to the course

This video introduces you to Diana Laurillard and Neil Morris, the lead educators for the course, and provides an overview of the weeks ahead.

We anticipate that you will need around four hours to complete the tasks for each week. This includes watching videos, joining discussions, reading articles and completing exercises. You will get more out of the course if you engage with your peer professionals in the discussions, and if you follow up the See Also resources, so do plan time for this as well.

Who will support your learning?

You can access the FutureLearn profiles of the educators from the links below. You can also choose to ‘Follow’ them:

Diana Laurillard (lead educator) Neil Morris (educator)

In addition your learning will be supported by a number of mentors from the sector. On this page you can find a complete list of mentors and their profiles, which you can filter by name, region and institution.

We would like to extend our thanks to all of our partners who have helped to create this course and to Evans Woolfe Media, who produced the on-location video.

Introduce yourself

Many of you have already introduced yourselves in the welcome area discussion. If you haven’t already done so, use the comments to introduce yourself and tell us about where you are from and your role within the Vocational Education and Training sector. You might like to follow other course participants who have similar interests to yours so that you can learn together and share experiences.

When commenting within this course, make use of the filtering features. You can ‘follow’ the educators and others who work in a similar environment to you - or other learners whom you consider to have something interesting to add to the conversations. You can then filter the discussions to only view the comments from those you are following. This can help to make discussions easier to manage.

If you agree with a comment, use the ‘like’ option to acknowledge this. You can also filter discussions to see those comments ‘most liked’ by other participants. This is a good way to view the most popular conversations.

You can also contribute to the discussion using Twitter, with the hashtag #FLble2. We will be checking the feed for this hashtag regularly throughout the course, and you may wish to do the same.

New to online learning?

If you are new to online learning or to FutureLearn, take some time to explore these supplementary resources.

What’s next?

Over the 3 weeks of this course, you’ll be looking at ways of embedding the practice of blended learning in the VET (Vocational Education and Training) sector.

The first week is about ‘Learning from experience’. We have to do this because Blended Learning is always changing. There are new technologies becoming available, or new ways of using existing technologies, or new opportunities for combining technologies… which is what makes it one of the most exciting and creative ways to teach.

We begin by learning from the learners themselves, about their experience, then we look at the data we can collect by using digital technology, because this is evidence about how well it works. And we end the week with how we learn from each other - becoming part of an innovative professional community of practice.

Week 2 takes on the challenges that the VET sector is facing and we ask: How can technology help? How can we use it to reach more learners more effectively? Develop independent learners? Reduce the costs of doing all this innovation? If we’re going to the trouble of embedding blended learning practice then it should certainly be in the service of our more difficult challenges.

Week 3 tackles the issue of embedding practice within our organisations. Whatever learning context we’re working in the issues will be similar: what are the organisation’s ambitions that technology might serve? How do we make sure blended learning is affordable? And how do we manage, or contribute to, making the culture change towards more and better use of technology?

Over the weeks you’ll be working on these issues in the company of other professionals grappling with the same ambitions and challenges. We aim to share ideas and build solutions together.

This sector is under pressure to change, to innovate, to expand, to improve learner success, and to do all this with no additional funding. This is not a course on how to achieve the impossible, but we do look to technology to bring the joy of creativity and fun of collaboration to the punishing changes ahead.

So by the end of the 3 weeks, we hope you’ll also see exactly where you could use more blended learning yourself, and that you’ll feel ready to propose and develop some new techniques that will contribute to your own learners’ success.

By the end of this course you will have considered the issues of workload, sharing ideas and designs, and collaborative innovation across organisations.

The whole point of the course is to help our learners. So our starting point is to listen to their experiences of blended learning.

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This video is from the free online course:

Blended Learning Essentials: Embedding Practice

University of Leeds