How should educators use shape instruction using technology? Well, that depends on the setting: is it face-to-face, online or a hybrid of the two? Let’s explore each setting with an example of a learning activity that would fit each context:
Face-to-face learning takes place in a physical classroom while online learning happens totally outside the physical classroom. Hybrid learning combines elements of both face-to-face learning and online learning. Online learning seems like it would be less work for an educator; but in fact, online classes are from 1 ½ to 3 times more work for an instructor than in a face-to-face setting (Bates & Watson, 2008 p. 43). Not only more work needs to go into creating an online or hybrid course, but also restructuring the course design. Bates and Watson (2008) assert that transitioning into an online or hybrid learning environment from a face-to-face classroom “entails a whole new course design” (p. 38).
Face-to-face learning occurs in a traditional classroom environment in that it teacher-centered. One activity that would fit this learning medium is active learning through the use of PowerPoint presentations. I currently utilize PowerPoint presentations to supplement lecture-based teaching. By using PowerPoint presentations in a way that poses questions and requires learner-involvement, they not only act as an information-delivery method, but as a tool to stimulate active learning. TheUniversityofMinnesota’s Teaching and Learning Tutorial (2008) gives useful examples that teachers can easily implement in their own presentations:
- asking an opening question,
- introductory think-pair-share activity,
- focused listing,
- a blank slide for questions,
- another think-pair-share activity,
- note check with other students
- question and answer pairs,
- two-minute summary paper,
- asking a final question and
- posing a final question.
The think-pair-share activity is valuable in that it is student-centered. The teacher first poses a question to the learner to think about individually, the learner then teams up with another student to share their thoughts as a pair and, finally, the group presents their thoughts to the class as a whole (Twelve Active Learning Strategies, 2008). By seeing content through three different levels, individual, pair and group, the learner is more engaged that passively listening to a teacher and has the ability to combine knowledge with classmates to form a more complete understanding of material.
Hybrid learning blends face-to-face learning with online activities. An activity that would best work in this environment falls under inquiry-based learning. Inquiry-based learning is “a research-based strategy that actively involves students in the exploration of the content, issues, and questions surrounding a curricular area or concept” (Lane, n.d.). It is malleable in that the level of teacher-centered vs. student-centered depends varies depending on the teacher and the content. Erring on the student-centered side, the classroom/wiki could act as a space where questions are posed and answers to those questions can be made through research inside/outside the classroom. Students could work individually, as a pair or small group depending on the circumstance to form their own hypotheses. Online learning is learning which is wholly done online. An activity that best fits this would be under the mobile learning category. One of the benefits of mobile learning is its use “for instantaneous access to information”, whether that occurs on a smart phone, an iPod/iPad, laptop, etc. (Gawelek & Komarny, 2011). Students could access a learning game for retention before an exam, for example. In this way, no matter where the student is, the learner could access review materials in the form of a game.
I get excited about blended learning because it gives you the opportunity to hone your face-to-face skills in a formal setting that, I think, should be learner-centered. On top of that, students can benefit from online education components that reinforce ideas and allow them to explore their own thoughts and ideas through collaboration. You get the best of both worlds! Then comes the question of what are the potential drawbacks of blended learning? Are there any? Or is this a general form that can be adapted to suit learners successfully?
Bates, C., & Watson, M. (2008). Re-learning teaching techniques to be effective in hybrid and online courses. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 13(1), 38-44.
Gawelek, M.A. & Komarny, P. (2011). [Mobile Perspectives on iPads] Why Mobile? EDUCAUSE Review, 46(2). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/mobile-perspectives-ipads-why-mobile
Lane, J. (n.d.). Inquiry-based learning. Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, PennStateUniversity. Retrieved from http://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/pdf/IBL.pdf
Twelve Active Learning Strategies. (2008). The University of Minnesota’s Teaching and Learning Tutorial. Retrieved from http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/tutorials/powerpoint/learning/index.html