Blended learning session in action

(Course reference: Blended Learning Essentials Embedding Practice, 1.4)

The video showed an aromatherapy class where students were shown how to use an app which allowed them to learn about the components of different ingredients and how to mix essential oils suitable for clients.

The app allows the students to select different oils and displays a pie chart showing its composition in terms of effects such as stimulation, relaxation, balance etc.

The pie charts all use the same colour coding for the effects and is a good visual tool for seeing which effects are present and in what proportions.

The app allows the students to select oils to mix (they can select the quantity of each oil selected) and generates a pie chart showing the effect of the mixture.

The app’s use of interactivity, rich media, and dynamic display makes it an effective learning tool:

  • Colour and size are used to show information about effect and proportion – this visualisation of data engages important parts of the brain to enhance learning.
  • Students can be active in their learning – they can choose which oils to look at and mix.
  • Students can work together – they can talk about what they see and benefit from each other’s insights.
  • The ability to see a visual representation of their chosen mixture means they can experiment with different combinations and get immediate data on what their choices do.
  • They can save a particular mixture which means they can refer to it in future and also it is available for assessment.

A static textbook even with colour pie charts for each oil and some sample pie charts for some mixtures would be much more cumbersome to use for reference, and they would need to record their choices manually. They would presumably have to do fairly time-consuming calculations to work out the pie chart for their mixtures.

It was not clear from the video whether students could record the reasons for their choices and information about the qualities of the actual mixture they went on to create. And whether the saved document had room for teacher feedback to be added directly.

The issue of individual assessment for work done as a group was also not touched on.

It strikes me that while we are expecting to produce evidence of how technology may be enhancing learning, the bigger issue is where is the scientific evidence for the validity of aromatherapy.