By reflecting and evaluating on my sessions and those that I have observed I have decided on the following improvements.
I tend to be over ambitious when blending digital tools into my lessons. I am in danger of the tools dominating the learning not enhancing it. I have seen this with my colleagues also. Whilst it is good to experiment and try new tools and techniques a careful approach is needed. At all times the tools should aid to reinforce learning not provide any sort of barrier. A more organic approach might prove better, adding tools regularly but in a steady and careful manner. As part of my action plan is a constant review of new developments and tools with the aim to increase the number of tools I feel confident using in the classroom.
Be prepared for failure
Whenever an element of blended learning is included into a session it is very important to have a back up plan. For instance when I intended to use One Note as a collaborative tool that part of my session failed as only 5 guests were allowed. On that occasion I had not wanted to waste valuable session time by requiring learners to login with a Microsoft account but concentrate on the learning we were undertaking. I had looked in help and had been pleased to see that 25 users can edit a One Note notebook at a time however I should have allowed for this to fail and have had a second collaborative option available such as a Padlet board.
Accessing resources and the use of accounts
In my view there are two main stumbling points when using digital tools in the classroom.
Firstly accessing the tool.
If at all possible access should be a simple click either by having an app preinstalled or in the case of a web resource having bookmarks set up in advance. QR codes can help but obviously only if learners have QR readers readily available to them. Valuable time can be lost if learners are required to type complex URLs.
I tried to get learners to access a single resource where links are then available to all other sources. Emailing a set of links can be effective but it assumes email addresses available before the lesson and that learners will be competent at accessing their emails. A number of tools such as Socrative and Padlet allow for custom URLs which can be easier if typing is needed.
I need to keep working towards developing easy access solutions. I need to investigate tools advanced options especially with regard to accessibility options.
Secondly sign in needed
During this course something I witnessed frequently was lost time and interrupted learning due to poor planning of how learners needed to access resources especially when a log in was needed. This type of interruption can ruin a good session. At all costs this needs to be avoided. Perhaps by building in to a course introduction ensuring that any sign ins / sign ups are carried out in such a way as to limit loss of valuable learning time.
I need to use class induction to negotiate access to resources / accounts needed with learners. Careful planning a week or so ahead at least to allow any problems to be overcome before use in an actual session.