Title: Blended learning and new technologies: Authentic learning using powerful cognitive tools

Dr Jan Herrington
Professor of Education
Murdoch University



Dr Jan Herrington is a Professor of Education at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. This position follows appointments at universities in New South Wales and Western Australia, and many years experience in the design and development of multimedia and web-based programs. The last 20 years of her professional life have been devoted to the promotion and support of the effective use of educational technologies in learning in schools and universities. Jan's current research focuses on authentic learning, the design of effective Web-based learning environments for schools and higher education, mobile learning, and the use of authentic tasks as a central focus for Web-based delivery of courses. She has published over 130 refereed journal articles, conference papers and chapters, and several books including a recently co-edited book entitled Authentic Learning in Higher Education. She was a Fulbright Scholar in 2002 at the University of Georgia, USA, and has won many awards for her research including the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) Young Researcher of the Year Award, and several Outstanding Paper awards at international conferences, most recently at EdMedia 2008.

Keynote address

The increased availability and diversity of mobile and web-based technologies in education has created many opportunities for teachers and learners to engage in authentic and innovative learning environments. The potential of these technologies is particularly strong when they are used within a blended learning context. However, the opportunity is often lost, with many teachers reverting to conventional methods of teaching that fail to adapt to the possibilities for learning that these new technologies present. Perhaps the most powerful mode of blended learning is where technologies are used as tools for participation¡Xlearning with technologies rather than from them.

This presentation will put the case that online and mobile technologies afford the design and creation of truly innovative authentic learning designs. The theoretical foundations of this approach are strong, and they will be explored. Authentic tasks and activities will be demonstrated as a means to organise learning topics where students can engage with technologies in innovative and effective ways. The strategies will draw on principles of authentic learning, and will be illustrated with examples and activities from blended learning contexts. Finally, the case will be made for a more comprehensive approach to investigating the effectiveness of authentic learning designs through design-based research.

Title: Blended learning for some or for all?

Mr Peter Olaf Looms
Visiting Associate Professor
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, SAR


Peter Olaf Looms was born and educated in the UK, where he was awarded a BA and MA in animal behaviour and experimental psychology. He is currently part-time senior consultant with the Danish public service broadcaster DR, where he is responsible for championing international strategic projects from the drawing board to a point at which they can be handed over to others for implementation and routine operation. Recent projects have included personal video recorders, mobile media and the promotion of access services for digital television.

Peter also holds part-time posts as:

  • visiting associate professor at the University of Hong Kong ECOM/ICOM Masters programme (DAM, Digital Assets, Convergence and Digital Entertainment),
  • Programme Director (Masters in IT -- interactive design and multimedia), and
  • External lecturer at the IT University in Copenhagen and the Danish Technical University (Project Management; Innovation & Digital Media).

Peter has been involved in the use of ICT in teaching and learning for thirty years. He was a member of the government committee that set up blended learning provisions in Denmark in the early nineties. For several years he taught on the University of Hong Kong Master's programme on ICT in Education. In recent years he has been on the advisory panel of policy studies done for the New Zealand Ministry of Education on e-learning and professional development for ICT in education.

Peter is Danish and lives and works much of the time in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Keynote address

Over the last two decades, blended learning has spread from universities to a wide range of contexts where the focus is on acquiring new competencies. In the same period IT -- in the guise of the mobile phone and the Internet -- has become ubiquitous at the global level. While the vast majority of those living in industrialised countries have access to IT, to what extent are they able to use it to learn efficiently and effectively -- is IT truly accessible? Using concrete examples, this presentation addresses some of the policy and design issues facing blending learning and argues the case for expanding our understanding of usability to include accessibility issues.

Title: Blended learning: An organizational imperative

Prof. Jim Taylor AM
Australian Digital Futures Institute
University of Southern Queensland


Professor Taylor began his career in educational teaching in 1974 as a lecturer in Educational Psychology at Charles Sturt University, NSW, Australia. In 1980 he moved to the University of Southern Queensland where he has held many positions including: Associate Head (Academic Services) of the Distance Education Centre; Professor and Director of the Distance Education Centre; Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Global Learning Services; and in January 2009 he took up his current position of Professor of the Australian Digital Futures Institute.

His research interests have been focused on distance learning and more recently e-learning technologies. In 1999 he won the ICDE Individual Prize of Excellence which is awarded for having an active role in the International Council for Open and Distance Education and internationally over many years with significant contributions made to research and development in the field of open and distance learning. In 2007 he was awarded the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for 25 years of sustained leadership in enhancing the quality of open and distance learning in higher education, both in Australia and internationally. Most recently, in 2009, he was appointed Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for service to tertiary education, particularly in the areas of open learning, on-line and distance education, as an academic, researcher and administrator.

Professor Taylor's numerous publications include 27 articles on distance and e-learning. He has had extensive experience, both in Australia and overseas, in undertaking consultancy work related to instructional design and distance education. His has given over 50 conference presentations on distance learning and e-learning.

Keynote address

The increasing impact of the global financial crisis demands a proactive approach to the management of higher education institutions. Because of significant shifts in societal demand for access to higher education, variations in student demographics and present fiscal constraints, institutions of higher education need to devise and implement an organizational development strategy to ensure that blended learning become a structurally integrated element of the processes of learning and teaching. A recent special edition of International Higher Education focused on the demographic trends associated with the emerging universal aspiration for access to higher education, and associated projections that global student numbers will almost double to reach 160 million by 2025 (Klemencic, M. & Fried, J. 2007). In a similar vein, Alex Usher (2007) of the Educational Policy Institute predicted that at current rates of world wide growth, the number of students in post-secondary education will more than double in less than ten years. The fact that conventional classroom-based approaches to teaching and learning will not be capable of meeting this escalating demand for higher education is not widely acknowledged and represents a major leadership challenge. The need for innovative practices supported by new technologies to improve the productivity of teachers and learners has never been greater. In both developed and developing countries, blended learning -- with the majority of the educational process being delivered via the Internet -- will provide the only viable cost-effective means of sustaining flexible access to education and training opportunities. For institutions to survive and thrive in the increasingly complex environment of higher education, it is imperative that leaders generate an organizational development strategy, which will lead to blended learning becoming the core approach to learning and teaching.