BlendKit Week 1 Reading Reaction
So I’m attempting BlendKit again – it’s not my first trip through the course, and last year I was pretty upset when life caught up and kept me from finishing the class. Oh well, that’s life…right?
So as I read the chapter I get hit several times with some realities that I think get forgotten in the development of blended learning courses. The chapter states,
Blended learning is not simply adding an online component to a face-to-face course. Technology in a course should be used wisely – to facilitate student learning.
I think sometimes it’s misunderstood why technology is added to a course. I’ve gotten faculty who’ve wanted to add classroom response systems. When I delve into why – well, they want to replace their bubblesheet attendance system with something different. Sure, they give a quiz with the bubblesheets, but they’re not adding the response system to get real time feedback from students, they’re wanting to just make it easier to take attendance. That’s not a good reason to use a system and force students to incur a $20-50 cost to obtain a clicker, or download an app to their smartphone.
Nor do I see blended learning as a way to maybe take a day of the week out of the classroom – this should not be seen as an opportunity to simply require students to do online activities in lieu of attending class on Friday. Although students might love that idea, that’s not the purpose of adding blended learning.
I think what I get from this is that blended learning requires us to discard most of what we know about traditional in-class learning. We have to approach our course design from the point of view that our engagement with students will be in multiple dimensions – we’ll be engaging with the students face-to-face and in synchronous and/or asynchronous online communication. We can’t stick to the idea that you can only email the instructor or visit only during office hours. If we want to be more flexibility in our instruction we have to be more flexible in how students approach us.
We also can’t lecture on-the-fly anymore. I teach a face-to-face course with the only online materials being readings, quizzes, and assignment submission dropboxes. But if I’m not 100% prepared for my lecture, can I simply twist my class to add more group discussion? Sure! However, with a blended course, I have to be purposeful in my design and actions. There’s no excuse for being less-than-adequately prepared. I feel that misuse of technology will only amplify my lack of purpose and direction if I don’t plan appropriately
I think if you do teach a blended learning course, from day 1 if there are expectations for students to participate in synchronous activities outside of normal class times, that must be disclosed immediately. Students who work or have other activities outside of class time may not be able to attend synchronous sessions; this is fair to the student so they can determine if they can continue to attend my course or if they need to enroll in an alternative section. Like online courses, blended learning may not be an appropriate avenue for all students, and they should know from Day 1 what they are getting into.
So these are my initial reactions to the reading. I’m ready to move forward.