My experiences with blended learning as a student are very similar to Michael. I can also remember the time when classrooms had access to one or two computer and we used them to practice keyboarding using All the Right Type or to print banners that we could later colour in or in some of our progressive classrooms to search the world wide web. As a person who has always been interested in technology and exposed to different technologies as a child, I was always excited to get the chance to use technology to change the way I was learning something.
As I entered into high-school, the development of computing technology, the Internet, and the World Wide Web continued to shift and impact education. In grade 11, I received a scholarship to study abroad in Brazil for a year. Since our education systems are so different, in order to graduate at the same time when I came home, I had to take one class through correspondence, which introduced me to my first online learning class. This was an interesting experience for me as I am most definitely a social learner and enjoy peer interaction and thrive off of discussion. This class was on the far right of the continuum and was fully online. I am sure distance education has changed since my experience in 2003-2004, but I never met or spoke with my instructor, my assignments were all listed through an online management system, and I was responsible for being motivated enough to get through the course on my own. I was really left to my own devices. Luckily, I was successful with the course (although I did procrastinate big time)… however, the way this course was set up wasn’t my favourite way to learn.
Through my undergrad, technology and how teachers used technology to teach really transformed and we started to see a mix between traditional classroom learning and online learning, which is typically known as blended learning. I really enjoyed reading the Bates chapters and thought the continuum to describe online learning as pictured below was really helpful to understand the different types of online learning.
This is my fourth graduate course I have taken in a blended learning environment and I must say I find them very enjoyable, social, and convenient. I would also say that some of my deepest learning and reflection has happened in these blended learning environments compared to the traditional classroom environment. Seems a little backwards, but it is true. I find myself more engaged and active in the online community than I do in the classroom. I also find myself making more connections when we are not in class and my learning continues through the week and is driven by open source materials, not just a singular textbook. Of course there can be the challenges of your internet not working fast enough or your mouse dying mid-broadcast (haha!), but generally my overall experience as a student in a blended environment has been very positive.
As an elementary school teacher, my experiences with blended learning have been quite limited and haven’t reached much further than station rotation blended learning.
Station-Rotation blended learning is a: “…model (that) allows students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, where at least one of the stations is an online learning station. This model is most common in elementary schools because teachers are already familiar rotating in “centers” or stations.”
Taken from TeachThought
I would like to include more blended learning in my teaching, but I need to wrap my head around it and ensure that it is enhancing and transforming teaching and learning and remember the relative importance of instruction and pedagogy versus educational technology and media on the quality of learning. My goal is to jump into the SAMR swimming pool and use technology to enhance and transform my teaching.