segunda-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2017

Blended learning challenging the traditional education method

Education is a revolving door where students, teachers and classrooms constantly change, entering and exiting stage, bringing fresh ideas, creative approaches and challenges to the process as a whole.  One of the most important attributes of teaching is discovering ways to engage students, finding methods to reach them in order to teach them. As a sole pedagogical method, traditional face-to-face lecture teaching and classroom discussion is obsolete in today’s technology driven society. The idea of limiting teaching only to classrooms, where time and space are confined and restrictive, is counterproductive considering the interactive online tools at hand today, which can be extended outside the classroom to reach and teach students.  On the other hand, blended education, the traditional method’s modern counterpart, which combines traditional face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning, is leading the education system by providing elements that are currently missing from the 21st century education system. I have studied under both methods and strongly believe that the blended method offers greater opportunities for increased and more effective learning.  

First of all, a hybrid course offers more flexible working hours, enabling students to create personal study agendas for the online component of the course.  Since time is a precious commodity, you are more apt to meet deadlines because, ultimately, you can complete the assignments at your own convenience. Similarly, you are not confined to the classroom, but can work from home or an environment  suitable to your needs. Besides, working in a familiar, comfortable setting puts us at ease where we can be more productive.   Additionally, if we are able to establish our own work agendas, we are more likely to apply ourselves to the tasks, carry out the on-line exercises, and effectively complete follow up work because we have time to organize ourselves accordingly.  Furthermore, being able to work at your own pace and speed allows for better grasp and absorption of subject matter because you're not rushing to get it done; you are working in the comfort of your home or favorite establishment and at the time of your choice.

Moreover, the scope of contemporary blended education far outweighs the counterpart traditional method.  If widespread information sources are readily available on a large scale, students are no longer dependent upon a sole source of information, challenging an exclusive reliance on the one-man-show: 100% teacher-centered classrooms.  Access to varied sources of data and use of research engines diversifies pedagogical techniques. Additionally, differentiated platforms, such as moodle, allow teachers to interact with students outside of the classroom and via custom-made presentations and current online materials. Virtual boards are efficient methods to post preparatory work for students to complete prior to class, thus enabling teachers to cover more extensive workloads in the classroom and even provide interactive follow up in teacher-student online forums.  Consequentially, hybrid education increases opportunities to fulfill a more comprehensive workload and attain higher education goals because the online, interactive platforms introduce teaching materials that complement classroom education.  Teaching materials and fonts, once limited only to paper and pen and face-to-face classroom instruction, are suddenly endless.  Hybrid education surges and expands teaching to widespread, even remote areas distributing pedagogical instruction on a larger scale.

Despite these benefits, some people might argue against hybrid teaching because institutionalizing internet use in education discriminates against people who do not own a computer or have access to the internet.  Although I agree that a computer is an essential tool to tap into blending learning, not having one does not impede participation. Decades ago, the lack of  a computer would be cause for alarm in a blended method of teaching. However, it's safe to say that in the 21st century, globalization has secured online inter-connectedness world-wide. Even remote indigenous tribes in the Amazon have internet access and use blended pedagogical systems. Still, I agree that a computer stands as an essential component of the blended educational method, but again, if you do not own one, there are hundreds of cyber cafes, computer houses and stations, libraries, and restaurants that offer easy online access in agreeable surrounding. So, if you don’t own a computer, that’s no excuse for not doing your homework!  Furthermore, computers are no longer luxury objects; they are requisite tools to function in everyday life in our globalized community.

Hybrid learning allows for flexible working hours and the use of multi sources of information inside and outside the classroom generating a win-win situation, where productivity is without a doubt increased. Data can be elicited and researched with sufficient time to analyze and reflect prior to output, and personal work agendas created and establish according to each person’s necessities and pace.  Developing  a pre-set, established classroom agenda as the primary teaching method, into a hybrid, on-line platform where you can interact with both students and teachers at your own convenience and stride is a natural evolutionary step for our education system in today’s technological society.

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