The Social Justice and English 12 initiative: design, development, and implementation of a course for blended online learning environments
Blended learning, the thoughtful integration of face-to-face and online learning, is a growing practice in schools both within and beyond Canada that has the potential to enhance and transform Canadian high school education. Emerging in response to the increasing need, flexibility and demand to respond to diverse students’ needs, blended learning provides engaging and meaningful learning experiences for today’s students while providing the digital literacies essential for the 21st Century learner. Blended learning allows for creative approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. This research project explored the process of development, design and implementation of a blended learning course, one that thematically bridged the learning outcomes from two BC Ministry developed courses, English 12 and Social Justice 12. The intention of the blended learning course was to develop pedagogical strategies that foster more authentic learning experiences and offered the potential for deep learning for students—through connecting course material with their own lives and their surrounding communities with the hope of empowering and encouraging student-centered learning. The course was designed such that students influenced the content, activities, materials, and pace of learning. In its entirety, this course offered senior high school students a flexible option for learning with many online interactive technologies, such as blogs, social media, and discussion forums to enhance students’ engagement and learning key 21st Century learning competencies. The Social Justice-English 12 Project website (http://projectsocialjustice.weebly.com/) provided access to the course content and educational material, and to foster student learning through collaboration, a private Google+ community was created as a hub for sharing, discussion, and learning from one-another (https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/115328321514016307671).