I’ve asked this before: what does my classroom look like? Not in terms of engagement though, what is the balance of technology to traditional means of learning? Where do I fit on the blended learning spectrum? Why do I fit there? Am I doing it for me? Or am I doing it for the learners?
Pro-tip: it should be for the learners.
Learning Preferences as an Educator
How does my classroom look in terms of print, audio, and video for digital resources? What is my typical practice and, therefore, preference? 70% of the time we’re using a PowerPoint to direct the flow of class, whether it is through discussions, lectures, or providing visual directions for activities. Within that 70%, we’re probably looking at an 80%-20% split of print-video (I provide the audio for most of the print work – lecturing – and this, typically, is not done digitally). But how does this sync up with my experiences from learning from digital resources? Do I emulate what I was exposed to when young? Or what worked best for me?
Learning Preferences as a Learner
What kind of learner was I even? What learner am I now? The different learning styles I was raised on were debunked, but for argument’s sake, let’s say I’m a kinesthetic, auditory/visual, and reading/written learner.
In a traditional classroom setting, when I was in high school at least, I learned best in the order of:
- Written and reading (to introduce content),
- kinesthetic (to try content) and;
- auditory (to explain and clarify content).though in a traditional classroom setting, at least this holds true for when I was in high school.
I need engagement and/or activities that keep me working. If the individual instructing isn’t enthused or invested, neither am I.
To make matters worse, I typically need additional stimulation in order to stay focused, I need to doodle or have other things happening in order to stay on task. I frequently feel like people talk too slow, yet one of my biggest hurdles as an educator is to slow down the pace of my direct instruction. I find I may not even be looking at the instructor with poor body language/active listening skills – but I am (I swear). Hypocritically, when a student does this in my class I would probably question their engagement though.
Would I be a good student in my classroom today? I think so, my educating style is consistent with my learning style, but what about the evidence and overlap the style has with technology?
My classroom on the continuum
Connecting the digital back to my classroom – my classroom falls into the blended variety (with flipped/hybrid elements) – and this “blending” checks off a lot of the needs I would’ve had as a learner! In my class, we utilize technology independently and frequently, but it is closely monitored/facilitated by the instructor (yours truly). When so much curricular content is available online, open and free, my role adjusts to that of a facilitator, helping students to synthesize information (because they will inevitably be exposed to it, with or without me). Many of the key concepts are covered by me prior to the students getting to pick a direction and run with it, so they require less pre-class work and a greater emphasis is placed on utilizing class time. With this methodology could I go completely online-based for my courses? Not until the evidence points that it shows a significant improvement in student-learning, right now, blended appears to be the best practice. Reducing costs is becoming a larger and larger priority, and blended learning helps makes that happen, I even use the digital medium to save paper (money and the environment, you’re welcome).
Several years from now, will my classroom look the same? Probably not. Not only may my assignment change, but so will the learners, as I mentioned previously, that’s what it’s all about. Fortunately, blended learning is versatile and adaptable in nature, and this may lend itself to evolving with the students without much transformational change. Perhaps we’ll regain the ability to spend more and we can invest in bio-technologies to use in the classroom to further enhance learning that may only be currently achieved in virtual labs? But maybe the virtual labs are more valuable so that we can drift towards MORE online-only learning?
Where does your class fit on the spectrum? If it’s blended, what modes do you use to make it blended? If it’s not blended, why? Are you doing it for you?
Let me know!