Friday, April 25, 2014

Understanding Blended Learning

This summer I am enrolled in my second Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered by UCF and EDUCAUSE. Blendkit 2014 is the name of the course and my goal for enrolling is to apply blended instructional concepts and principles to the ongoing development of real estate courses I am currently designing. From my past learning and instructional experiences, there seems to be a gap in the effort to develop a hybrid instructional approach in the real estate sector, especially in residential. Salesperson courses tend to be either face-to-face or entirely online. However, applying a blended approach to the delivery of residential salespersons and broker salespersons courses not only seem to be likely ideal course candidates, but ultimately improve learning experiences of pre-licensed students.

After reading the initial chapter assignment, my understanding of what a blended course was confirmed by the definition given that a blended course is comprised of the traditional face-to-face instruction and online instruction. From the stated benefits of blended learning, the most important benefit that registered with me, as a current student myself, was the additional benefit of flexibility. Traditional instruction has been and still is the prime instructional mode for delivering real estate salesperson courses, even though e-Learning instruction is well established in other industries. My theory for this resistance is that the real estate industry is quite often constrained and restricted by older and traditional practitioners as well as instructors which in effect causes not only the adoption of technology to be slower, but also new approaches to implement within the industry. Annual reports routinely state that the average age of the practicing residential salesperson is 55 or older which reaffirms my theory each year.

For better understanding development approaches for blended courses, several interesting points were made within the designing section. In particular, the concept of geographically distributed came up which is an important aspect for my development since future learners will be dispersed through out the state of Florida and eventually nationally. Again, flexible learning was brought up during the planning process of delivery. This is another interesting point for relating to real estate since the delivery of salesperson courses tend to be very deliberate in their linear, systematic approach of instructing towards the exam which is fully endorsed by state real estate commissions. Near the end of the design section, the topic of models or frameworks for developing learning courses was discussed. From my most recent research on interoperability and reusability of learning management systems, ontology development applied to e-Learning is a new research interest of mine and may extend well to the development of a blended real estate course. An ontological approach applied to blended course development may become an effective method for developing dynamic courseware along with a graphical solution for eventually establishing a knowledge base system for future courseware development. In sum, I plan to apply early concepts of blended learning for developing a blended real estate course while using an ontology tool called Protege for testing in Moodle, an open source learning management system.