So what do you understand by the term blended learning? What about an online course? A hybrid programme? Could you provide a clear explanation of what student wellbeing is?
In recent conversations, it has become more and more apparent that we are using a range of terminology across the sector and we don’t necessarily have a shared understanding of what we mean when we say phrases or words.
This was something we covered in early incarnations of the Jisc Digital Leaders Programme, when we discussed how something like “The Digital University” could mean very different things to different people within a university. For some people it could mean to them a university which maximises the use of digital technologies, or digital by default. Other people could see digital as equating to online, so a virtual (digital) university where students learn online.
It’s a similar challenge with terms like hybrid or online or blended.
I published a blog post about hybrid courses back in May, my definition was very much about a programme of study which would react and respond to the changing environment.
With a hybrid course, some sessions are physical face to face sessions. There are live online sessions and there are asynchronous online sessions. In addition there could be asynchronous offline sessions as well. You may not want to be online all the time!
Some sessions could be easily switched from one format to another. So if there is a change in lockdown restrictions (tightening or easing) then sessions can move to or from online or a physical location.
Listening to a conversation someone was talking about hybrid courses as a mix between online and face to face, but didn’t mention the responsiveness or the potential flexibility.
Without a shared understanding we know that this can result in confusion, mixed messaging, with the differences in course design and delivery, as well as problems with student expectations.
So what can we do about this?
There are glossaries out there that can help, especially for a sector wide shared understanding.
The key with language is never assume that people will have the same understanding of the terms used that you have. Explanations of what terms means in documents and planning processes will ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of those terms.