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Friday, December 12, 2014

A mixed review of blended learning

Does technology always make for a better learning experience? continues Diamondback Online.

A student logs onto their computer. 
Photo: Diamondback Online

“This is a blended course,” my kinesiology professor said to our class on the first day of the semester. I immediately looked at her with furrowed brows as I had never taken a class that was taught half in lecture and half online.

For the next 13 weeks or so, I participated in both classroom-based discussions and lessons and online lectures supplemented by Powerpoint presentations and ELMS discussion boards.

At the end of the class, I had made up my mind about blended courses — or maybe I hadn’t. Yes, the online discussion portion of the class offered me flexibility and a chance to delve into material on a deeper level, but the guided instruction by a professional was missing completely.

A November presentation of findings by this university’s Campus Assessment Working Group echoed my sentiments on blended learning. The research found that most students surveyed expressed interest in taking blended courses, but they also have a variety of concerns including instructor proficiency with technology and level of instructor interaction.

Seventy-six percent of students who participated in the survey said blended classes would allow more flexibility in their schedules.  However, students were split on their opinion of the ability to skip or skim materials presented online. Fifty-two percent said they liked the idea of being able to work through material at their own pace, while 28 percent neither agreed nor disagreed or disagreed. 

“As a student with a very full course load, [having class once a week] was nice and actually helped me to make the most of the time spent in the classroom,” said Katie Edwards, a sophomore engineering major who took a blended English class last year.  

For the first few weeks of my blended class, I reveled in only having to attend class once a week and being able to sort through an online lecture in the comfort of my own bed.  
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Source: Diamondback Online


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