Recommendations for Blended Learning Program Development
Blending location (inside and outside the classroom) with paper- and digital technology-based resources and tools is more than a set of teaching and learning practices — it is a way to think about how we develop adult education programs.
When planning to use digital technology in an adult basic education program, literacy workers and administrators should consider the following critical components of blended learning programming. These recommendations apply to the adult education learning context and include the delivery of individualized educational experiences as well as programs that are course-based and use a fixed curriculum. We hope that these recommendations will support literacy organizations and adult education providers to better apply a blended learning approach in their programs and will empower them to request the necessary professional development and funding.
1. There should be more system support for adult educators.
While a blended learning approach is being effectively implemented in some adult basic education programs, there are limited opportunities for educators to connect and learn from each other and to express their leadership as they explore, experiment and evaluate innovative blended learning practices. Literacy workers have an essential role in the development and delivery of blended learning, and they should be afforded training, professional development and additional remuneration as their jobs change. Technologies are changing at a rapid pace, and having ongoing support for curriculum-planning, technology-planning and technology-related skill development will help to make the system sustainable. Service providers and intermediary organizations collaborate to mobilize educator leadership and build program capacity, and this work should be strengthened. There should also be support for the development of communities of practice that meet regularly and engage in reflective practice to ensure the evolution of educator knowledge and to advance the challenging process of reconceptualizing learning experiences for blended learning.
2. Blended learning programs should take a people-first approach.
A people-first approach is the conceptual infrastructure that holds up all blended learning programs. Behind every decision made in a blended learning program, consideration of the needs of the people involved — both the educator and the learner — must come first. A people-first approach acknowledges that learning is based on relationships. Literacy learning is a social experience. Programs using a blended learning approach value the social relations among learners and educators to co-create learning activities.
We are recommending an increase in program support and investment in tools and resources; however, this will only be effective if we focus on people, not on systems and operations. Educators should not carry the burden of change alone. It takes a great deal in the background to effect real change and support that change in a sustainable way. A people-first approach is key to enabling blended learning in adult basic education to happen.