The BLENDI project (Blended Learning for Inclusion) aims to combat the inequalities in access to digital technologies that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often face. In addition, it aims to promote students’ social inclusion in the digital era by developing teachers’ and students’ digital competence through blended learning. The BLENDI Guidelines were developed in order to present teachers and other interested stakeholders with the theoretical and practical framework for blended learning and inclusive education as this is implemented through the BLENDI approach in the context of the BLENDI project.
In order to understand the BLENDI approach, the BLENDI Guidelines include a presentation of the main theoretical concepts and ideas related to digital technologies and inclusion such as the notion of the digital divide, social and educational inclusion, digital inclusion, digital competence, and co-design, as well as the frameworks that comprise the BLENDI approach, which focus on children’s participation in education. The BLENDI Guidelines also discuss the three axes on which the BLENDI approach is based:
1) learning for all, by considering the principles of Universal Design for ALL (UDL);
2) teachers’ training for technology integration, adopting, and adapting the framework of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK);
3) the importance of students’ voice for pedagogy and learning design.
In addition, the Guidelines offer information to teachers about the BLENDI platform and toolkit.
The BLENDI Moodle training package (pdf) constitutes the basic tool for the training of teachers and educators in the implementation of the BLENDI approach. It includes all the relevant educational materials to be used by teachers and their trainers for the delivery of the blended training course for teachers. Currently, the Moodle training package contains the initial Master Training Course in English, which could be easily used and replicated by any interested school across Europe, as well as a number of replications of the initial Master Training Course, in Greek, Spanish, Catalan and Finnish.
The Master Training Course in the training package as well as its multilingual replications can be used by teachers who wish to develop skills and knowledge on the basic concepts of the project. The course also includes information, guidelines and support on the practical aspects of applying the BLENDI approach in their classrooms, such as the creation of the Dialectical Synergic Blended Lesson Plans (DSBLP).
The general structure of the Master Training Course and its national replications is: a. Introduction, b. The BLENDI Guidelines, c. The seven learning modules, and d. The Final Quiz. The seven (7) distinct Modules address different elements of the BLENDI approach and its implementation in schools. They contain all the necessary teaching and learning materials to support the learning experience of teachers who participate in the course. Each Module contains educational materials, links to articles and reports, informative videos, quizzes and presentations, divided in and labeled as pre-training activities, face-to-face activities, post- training activities and a final reflection activity.
Trainers who will undertake the course can add extra materials to suit their individual needs and the needs of their trainees. Additional materials can be added based on the profile, and existing knowledge and skills of trainees, and their educational needs.
The BLENDI approach uses self-evaluation, student feedback for BLENDI teachers and the measurement of students’ and teachers’ digital competences through the use of surveys and interviews. Teachers’ and students’ input is used to provide insight into the effects of the BLENDI approach. The BLENDI approach also used the SELFIE tool (Self-reflection on Effective Learning by fostering the use of Innovative Educational Technologies) as a form of needs assessment prior to designing the project’s platform and toolkit. The SELFIE is a free and openly accessible tool designed to help schools embed digital technologies in teaching, learning and student assessment. It gathers the views of students, teachers, and school leaders on the use of technology in their school, by using short statements and questions and a simple 1-5 agreement scale.
Teachers and students were involved in needs assessment right from the start when they undertook a SELFIE of their digital skills in their schools. This was the basis for creating the Blendi Platform. When the Platform was created, we looked at providing 3 main areas of work to create a digital inclusive tool that would help teachers and students to collaborate and make the most of their digital learning.
The 3 main areas in the Platform are:
Tool and Tips
Explore the following digital tools and learn practical tips about their use in blended learning environments to include all students.
Collaborative Lesson Plans
Use of Blendi Platform for creating collaborative lesson plans.
Students´ Feedback App
A space where students can provide reviews and feedback concerning activities and tools.
The BETA testing began as soon as lesson plans were able to be uploaded on the platform. The teachers and students in all schools have been collaborating and coming up with interesting lesson plans which they are able to share on the platform. The innovative side of the platform was completed with the possibility of students to provide feedback on the lesson plans so they could be modified and improved. The final version incorporates extensive feedback from all schools and mainstreams the platform for public use.
The BLENDI toolkit has been conceived as a user-friendly application with various resources for teachers and students. It provides teachers with practical tips about the use of blended learning to include all students, helping them decide on the various tools used in inclusive blended learning environments. The toolkit contains the following categories of tools: Wikis, Blogs, Discussion Forums, Webcasting, E-Portfolios, Online surveys and Quizzes, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Other Web 2.0 technologies.
Each category provides teachers and students with:
- A list of suggested tools.
- Instructions on how to create the tools.
- Guidelines on how to use them.
- Tips on how to make them more accessible to students.
- Additional literature.
The BLENDI platform can be used to codesign collaborative lesson plans between teachers and students. Teachers need to sign in with the platform with a Google account and create a lesson plan. The lesson plan template is composed of three main sections: (1) Learning objectives; (2) Activities and tools; and (3) Reflection and Assessment. For each section, the teacher can configure specific codesign questions to use with their students using the codesign blue buttons on the right. For each group of codesign questions the system allows teachers to generate a unique code. Students will then access the Feedback App and use the code provided by the teacher to see and answer the codesign questions individually and anonymously from any device (e.g. smartphone, laptop, tablet…).
The BLENDI platform is also a community platform. Teachers can share their collaborative lesson plans with the other teachers in the online community, duplicate and give feedback to others’s lesson plans. The platform provides a gamification feature that engages teachers with the codesign process, allowing them to track number of likes, views, comments received for each lesson plan created and an indicator of the number of times a lesson plan has been codesigned with students.
Teachers have implemented the BLENDI approach in their schools during the piloting phase of the BLENDI Project. Teachers in BLENDI pilot schools have pondered the added value of the BLENDI Approach. They find that the inclusive pedagogical use of digital technology brings following benefits to their schoolwork and students’ learning:
- New perspectives, new tips for Teachers
- Digital skills improved
- ‘Wisdom of Crowd’ when student participation increases
- More positive atmosphere in the classroom
- Student’s voice is heard better
- Learning to Learn improves
- Collaboration skills improve
- Possibility to try new ways of learning in and out of school
The pedagogical use of digital technology should be part of school culture, which means it needs to be included in strategic planning. For a successful implementation in schools, there needs to be a commitment on behalf of school leaders which entails investment in communication, as well as optimal leadership and management.
I & F Education and Development
Mr Joe Cabello, Educational Researcher, Project Coordinator
+353 1 5488166
European University Cyprus
Dr Katerina Mavrou, Associate Professor,
Department of Education Sciences
+357 22 559 485
Athens Lifelong Learning Institute
Tel. +30 211 0138 400
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona
Dr Davinia Hernández-Leo
Full Professor, TIDE learning technologies research group
+34 93 542 1428
Diaconia University of Applied Sciences
Dr Olli Vesterinen, Expert in Teacher Training
+358 40 590 5949