Saturday, August 24, 2013

To e or not to e ?..... Blended or eBlended?

I am actually finding it easier to blend everything this year. My classroom has 6 desktop computers (pc's) which have Photoshop and Illustrator on them, as well as being able to go online, and the students bring their devices (either netbooks or chrome books). In DVC, we have always had to do research of existing products and analyse them. BC ( before computers ), this was a case of cutting pictures out of catalogues and magazines. Then it was booking a computer suite when one was available. Now it is when we need it, in front of the students, at their finger tips. What is this product made from? How is it constructed? Instant research available.
The students are finding it easier and quicker to write their design briefs and specifications and analysis online, on either a Google doc or Google drawing, as feedback from me can be actioned without whole rewrites on paper.
Using Google drawings to produce analysis diagrams is quick and easy, with no need to wait for printing of images that they want to use.
The drawings we do have always had to be done on paper, and I personally don't want to see that change. It is a skill that is vital for design work, getting ideas out of your head and down on paper. Rendering those drawings, to get the surface and the lighting right is also a skill that is needed to be on paper. Yes, I know you can get awesome effects using computer programmes, but if you understand the concepts by hand, then applying them with other methods becomes easier to understand. I also think that about model making. Online testing and modeling is all very well, but sometimes you just need to hold the design in your hand, in 3D, there in front of you.
Typing up analysis notes about design work online is easier for some students than writing it next to their designs as they don't feel under pressure to get it correct the first time. No one wants to stuff up notes next to a drawing they have spent some time on.  This is why I have been trialling scanning the drawings this year, so they can write their analysis notes online, next to the scanned version of their work. The same with the photographs of the their 3D models. Saying that, my class have been trying out an online design programme called Floor Planner this term, to help them with the layouts of their batch designs. It has proved an interesting experiment, and I am getting Level 2 and 3 students producing design layouts at home and coming in to school keen to show me what they have been doing! 
Being able to photograph all the testing and modeling during the design development process has been great this year. I always have my phone in my pocket which has a decent camera on it and then the students are responsible for getting their photos from Flickr after I have uploaded them up there, to put in their project sites. This is WAY easier than me printing them all and then the students spending way too long cutting them out and sticking them in their books.

So, if I was to sum up, I feel that this blended approach has made it easier for me and the students. Obviously, to start with, nothing is smooth and easy. We have had bumps. Now we are in the flow, it is going ok, with lots of improvement room and plans for trying new things and making it better.

I like the term blended, without the e, as this reasons that I am using the "e" as just another tool to do the work we need to do, not be the end result. The focus is on the work and the learning. We get to choose from a wider variety of tools now, that is all.
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