Blended Learning – Pt. I

There are all kinds of variations on “learning with technology.” These variations span the continuum from traditional classroom to 100% online learning. The problem I see with online learning as is most common in cyber schools is that it is nothing more than a crummy pedagogical model of classroom instruction planted into the shell of a content management system. More often than not, it’s a bad textbook placed online. Students work in isolation with no emphasis on collaborative content/knowledge construction. Why is this? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing it is more cost effective to dump a traditional curriculum online and call it online learning than to design instruction that involves collaboration, projects and deep application of knowledge.

Schools – and leaders with a cutting edge vision – should be thinking about the possibilities offered by blended learning as described in this set of short videos from Education Elements. The Fundamentals of Blended Learning provides an overview of 4 variations of blended learning. What is most interesting is how “all of these models are rethinking the traditional school, giving students more control over their learning and providing students with targeted instruction.” This is a new structure for learning, not our traditional way of learning puffed up with technology.

Why aren’t more educators having conversations about this kind of learning? It seems to be so lacking. How many educators even know this kind of learning exists? How many educators are ignorant or willfully ignoring it, hoping it will go the way of other less popular “flavor of the year” initiatives? I’m not thoroughly convinced of the effectiveness of the models as described, but I do like how they are redesign the approach to learning and teaching we have clung to for decades. Anything that does that is worth examining deeper.

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