Online, Blended, and Face-to-Face Learning
I’m currently a 4th grade teacher who primarily teaches using face-to-face learning, however with technology resources becoming available at my school, blended learning is becoming more of a possibility in my classroom. The following Venn Diagram shows the similarities and differences between online, blended, and face-to-face learning as it has been used in my educational experience as a teacher and a student learning in an online setting.
Transitioning to Blended & Online Learning
Becoming a blended or online teacher requires a whole new teaching mindset. I’m so used to teaching in a large group setting with 32+ students in my classroom at all times. I’m used to teaching through text books at a certain pace, making sure that I get through all of the necessary information before testing time comes around in early May. I use individual and group projects and allow for students to work at their own level within a certain subject, but my whole group instruction always comes at one pace, which is mostly too easy for my high students and too complicated for my really low students.
Having students work on curriculum online allows for self-paced learning. The advanced students can move quickly through the necessary curriculum and beyond, and the lower students can work at a slower pace with more individual help and support in mastering the curriculum before moving on too quickly. This means that the classroom teacher no longer becomes the main source of curriculum delivery, but rather the facilitator of learning and a main support system for individual student success. The success of many online and blended learning programs tells me that this is the future of education. I’m totally on board and excited for this change! This is the reason that I made that tough decision to go back for my master’s in Educational Media Design and Technology and enroll in a Online and Blended Learning Teacher Certification program. I’m trying to learn everything that I can to make myself a successful teacher ready to transition into the future of education.
Through Full Sail University’s Online Program, I’ve participated in online collaborative teaching platforms like Wimba and GoToMeeting. As a high school and undergraduate college student, I was always the quiet student with so many ideas in my head, but little confidence to participate in a large group setting. Online collaborative platforms with small group meetings gave me the confidence and comfort to become an active participant in every classroom meeting. Having to work with 12 different instructors, it’s been interesting to see how different personalities work in the online setting. I’ve experienced everything from comedic teachers cracking jokes to engage the group, to teachers using videos and Web 2.0 tools to engage the group in thought provoking discussions. I imagine that working with students online requires a lot of patience and trial and error in finding the style that works best for each individual teacher. I’m the kind of person that is up for the challenge of new discoveries, so if I should ever need to make the transition to virtual teaching, I will take all of my online experiences and experiment with what works best for me.
Education is going through some major changes with the quick advancement in technology and I’m doing the best that I can to be prepared for that change. It’s going to be a wild ride, and not always an easy one, but if it means more student engagement and personalized learning, I’m completely on board!