I was recently asked the question as a teacher with experience in both a traditional and 100% online setting, “Which do you like better?”
I struggled with my response, as I can identify strengths and weaknesses in each. This question led me to share a bit about blended learning and how this might be the best solution. Blended learning is a combination of both online and face-to-face learning. I investigated blended learning more in depth after this conversation and found an interesting article, Blended Learning: The Convergence of Online and Face-to-Face Education, written by John Watson for the North American Council of Online Learning (NACOL).
Watson (2008) identifies blended learning as a system that has been slow to implement, but holds great promise. Watson (2008) states: “It is likely to emerge as the predominant model of the future – and to become far more common than either one alone” (pg. 3).
Several models are described in the paper, with varying amounts of online and face-to-face combinations. These models include:
- A traditional setting where students access all curriculum online with teachers present, 5 days a week
- Required on-campus setting with individual mentoring, 1 day a week
- Optional drop-in location
- Small and large group face-to-face requirements, 50% of the instruction
Watson (2008) also outlines important lessons learned from these models:
- Blended learning encompasses a wide variety of models
- Instruction, curriculum, and professional development are different from an exclusively traditional and online setting
- Teachers must utilize interactive online tools and methods for instruction
- The organization of the learning management system must include both the online and face-to-face components
After reflecting on this article and others that present a strong case for blended learning, I have the following questions:
- What are your perceptions of blended learning? How do you see it impacting our educational system?
- If blended learning is truly the “best” model, then why does it seem so slow to emerge? What do you think might be some of the specific reasons for this?
- Do you have any experience with a blended model? If yes, what were the strengths and weaknesses? If no, what pitfalls do you see in a blended model that may be overlooked in research?
- What professional skills do you think teachers in a blended environment will need in comparison to a traditional or online environment?
- What do you think would be the ideal blended learning environment and expectations for students?
- Any other thoughts or reflections after reviewing this article?
Watson, J. (2008). Blended learning: The convergence of online and face-to-face learning. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED509636.pdf