No, really, blended learning chapter one :)

Posted on February 25, 2015


I’m enjoying this chapter introducing “blended learning,” though as with just about everything educational I’ve ever read, parts of it could be condensed and simplified 🙂

It notes that “Although fully online learning has become well established in higher education, many institutions appear to be struggling with conceptualizing and implementing blended learning.”    I’m not so sure this is true.   I know here at Parkland that FTF teachers have been infusing online elements for a little while — because it creates *serious* conflicts for those few folks who don’t go online.   Several of our math courses are very blended — but they don’t call them that.   Hmmm…. perhaps that’s something to suggest to Parkland College:   if a course has a significant online element, even if it’s not a “hybrid” because the face time is still the same as when it was all face-to-face, perhaps a course should be called “blended” so that students will know they need to take care of that computer stuff.

I also hadn’t really thought of the “data analysis” advantage of online learning.   I think it’s *somewhat* overrated but gosh, even the more basic use of an LMS lets you see how much time a student has spent online and some details about what they’re up to.   (Yes, it’s great when Helicopter Mom says “but my daughter spent **hours** on that!” and teacher can pull up the data and say “or was she listening to her favorite videos? She wasn’t using the software…”)

The chapter also quotes somebody asking why blended classes end up being “frustrating boondoggles,” and then goes on to imply that Good Planning Will Cure That.   Welp, there are some frustrating aspects to our blended classes (they’re pretty good on the whole) — but not for lack of planning.   It’s more for lack of editing and/or beta testing.   When the software for your math problems grades your conversion from yards to meters based on its own choice of conversion factors, and you’re not privy to them, that’s frustrating.   You have to get the problem wrong and ask for the solution.   Of *course* it doesn’t work in all browsers, and today some questions just weren’t showing up.   You were supposed to submit an answer; there wasn’t a question there.

I really like that we’re told to put stuff online that is, basically, easier to understand.  HOwever, I also think there might be ways of, say, presenting math concepts visually and interactively, that might be ‘easier to understand’ *because* they’re online.  Given the previous paragraph, methinks it would be critical to ‘betatest’ with lots of  facilitated “I’m walking around the room and talking about this stuff with you while you do it” sessions.

(The whole dissecting of the phrase ‘why design’ seemed … another way of saying “no, you should plan!” and the article already said that…)

At any rate, unlike the Adobe “course,” I like the ratio of new knowledge to time taken.   Now, I’m not sure I *have* the time, but we’ll see…

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