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This hypothetical scenario of a student's learning journey demonstrates: 1) how a learner might be inducted into a blended learning programme; 2) how she would progress through the programme; 3) the scaffolding and developmental nature built into the design of the programme; and 4) how she would interact with peers and teachers, virtually and face-to-face. This scenario is designed to be read in conjunction with a complementary mindmap, which can be accessed by clicking this link.

Zeenah – Learning in a social world (scenario)
Name: Zeenah Year level: 11 Age: 16 Country of origin: Somalia Zeenah is Somali and has been living for the last 6 months with her family in a medium-sized, rural town in New Zealand. She is close to her family and shares a lot with them. Zeenah misses her county and friends, is shy and feeling isolated, and finds school an unsettling blurr. Her language diagnostic assessment shows that she requires support around language, literacy and numeracy. In addition, Zeenah is worried about having to cope with a different way of learning and the expectations of her as a learner. The school she attends has one ESOL teacher, and five other students requiring language assistance.

During her first month at school, Zeenah is introduced to the ESOL teacher and given a welcome pack, saved on a Flash memory stick, to a year-long blended learning ESOL and numeracy course. She takes the memory stick to the local community centre, where she is beginning to make friends, and asks someone to help translate the contents. The pack contains videos and images, as well as text (written in graded language, with non-complex sentence structures). She finds the videos fun and easy to follow and is able to understand a lot from the graphics without knowing the words. When she learns from the welcome pack that she will be using the Internet in her studies she is curious, but apprehensive too. A bilingual aide at the school tells her she is able to borrow a wireless Netbook laptop from the library, and can also apply for a bursary to cover an Internet data plan. The first thing the class does is explore the different aspects of the online programme. All the programme parts are marked with icons, and, to help with aural as well as reading skills, students are ‘guided’ by a speaking avatar (Voki). The Voki also gives tips about online safety and etiquette. Zeenah enjoys visiting the student lounge (hosted in a Ning), where she can see the videos uploaded by her peers or eTutor/eTeacher, leave a comment on her peers’ wall, or do text chat. The ESOL teacher shows them the “Our Cultural Village” area where they can find online bilingual dictionaries, eBooks in their first language, videos, music and pictures from their country, as well as a range of other resources.

After exploring the online spaces, the students join Ning and set up their profiles by answering a series of (non-mandatory) questions. Zeenah doesn't want to upload a picture of herself, and instead a friend with a mobile phone takes a picture of her favourite food and helps her upload it. She is really pleased when looking at the other students’ profiles – many of whom are based all around New Zealand – to find Moza, who is also from Somalia and shares Zeenah's taste in food. She leaves a comment on Moza’s wall saying ‘hi’ and asks a couple of questions. When Moza replies almost immediately Zeenah asks the eTutor if she can be her online ‘buddy’. Over the first 3 months, the students are helped by their eTeacher and eTutor to add to their profiles and to work on their language, literacy and numeracy skills in embedded, authentic contexts. The students in Zeenah's ESOL class have all used computers before and enjoy helping her when they see she is stuck with something. For Zeenah, the weekly online Webinar session with her classmates from around New Zealand and her eTeacher (using Adobe Connect), provides a real reason to ask about what someone did over a weekend, or what a peer’s family is like, because they only ‘see’ the other students once a week, and have never actually met them. Zeenah becomes familiar and comfortable with the online environment. She is keen to do as much work as possible, and accesses a lot of the extension activities, in particular those with with a visual aspect where she can hear and read the text and record herself repeating the word(s). For instance, she enjoys watching online videos followed by interactive matching or ordering tasks, and likes recording her own simple sentences in the online environment and then writing them. These word and sound files are stored electronically in her eportfolio. (She scans handwritten files and uploads them.) Zeenah is now able to independently text chat with other students on a social and increasingly academic (foundation) level. She accesses online bilingual dictionaries and can search for images and music on the Internet. She is increasingly eager to access the resources in the online library (especially those in Arabic; for example, Bakkar the Little Bird) and is practising her typing skills.

For homework, Zeenah has several choices of what she would like to do, and uses a Ta da list (to which her eTeacher also has access) to work out a learning plan. She realises she is quite confident at speaking, but struggles to write. Her eTeacher suggests she do as much reading as possible. With her Netbook, Zeenah is able to access online reading texts, as well as a collection of graded readers that have been collated in her school library, and even better, another site has a huge collection of readers. She downloads the .pdf files and reads for gist and detail, highlighting vocabulary she doesn’t understand. She includes this vocabulary in her vocabulary wiki page with a translation of the word, a picture (if she has time and can find a suitable one), and an example of the word in context. She posts an outline of the text into her blog along with what she did/didn’t like about it. She tries to read the same books as Moza so they can help each other and compare their responses to the book. Other students often leave short comments on her reader blog posts, and it surprises her how many people in her class like the same sorts of stories. The students have started working on their own “Our Cultural Village” using the existing ones as models. A grading rubric and set of instructions have been discussed with the eTeacher and eTutor, and students have access to videos (with audio) which illustrate and demonstrate the key skills they will be using as well as guidelines around what they might like to include. The students are hosting their Cultural Village in their ePortfolio space. Zeenah has already found some Creative Commons pictures she likes from Flickr, a video of a local Farmer’s Market from Blip TV, and a traditional Somali dance from You Tube. She is going to include what she has already written about her family as well as her likes and dislikes in her Cultural Village, but she is only sharing that with the eTeacher and two peers at the moment because she is in the middle of an editing cycle. Zeenah is really looking forward to

sharing her ePortfolio with her friends in Somalia, and already her family love seeing her work, and often have helpful suggestions and feedback.

In her ePortfolio Zeenah also keeps a weekly blog. She has been able to choose between recording an oral blog or writing one (although once a month all students have to complete at least one written and one oral blog), and finds it much easier to speak than to write. She has been able to capture her concerns and anxieties, as well as her triumphs, successes and pleasures. She only shares her blog posts with her eTeacher and Moza, although some of the other students share theirs with all the students in the group.

After six months learning in the blended programme Zeenah's eTeacher and eTutor ask students to form a group of four (with at least two being from a different town), and introduce a new project around the environment. The collaborative output from the project is hosted in a class wiki, and each group has their own page. Scaffolding in the form of videos and audio helps students with concepts around inquiry based learning, such as Internet search skills and staying safe online. Zeenah and her group discuss possible topics. When they find they all have creeks in their towns they settle on 'the creek environment' as their topic. They plan who will do each task. Some students take pictures of the creek, while two students in the group, whose parents know the local Department of Conservation ranger, conduct an interview with him about the local creek. One of the girls takes video footage on her mobile phone of a local volunteer group working to clean up the creek. The group discover back issues of the town newspaper at the local library and while some of the language is much too difficult to understand, they are able to take a couple of photocopies and translate some of the sentences with the help of their eTeacher. The project takes 3 months to complete overall, during which time the students cover the listening, reading, target vocabulary and language structures, as well as the associated

learning outcomes, required by the syllabus. At the end of 3 months the students open the wiki to a global audience, and a reporter from the local paper interviews them about the project. Pictures of the wiki, and all of the students online appear in the next issue of the paper, much to the delight of Zeenah's parents. Over the school year, Zeenah completes another two projects (four projects altogether), all of which are linked to the learning outcomes of the programme and to the national curriculum. She is feeling far less isolated than at the beginning of the year; her ability to use the language of her new country has improved considerably and she is now enjoying school life .

Zeenah – Learning in a social world by Hazel Owen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand License. Based on a work at docs.google.com.

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