Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Learning and Leading publication is a membership magazine that contains great ideas, success stories, and the chance to share opinions. Point/Counterpoint is a regular feature that provides a topic question that readers can respond to. The reader answers yes or no and then gives their reasoning for their answer. It is a great feature that I enjoy reading and on occasion will respond to. Back in August the question was, "Should students opt out of face-to-face education." This question is featured in the current issue and I thought I would share my response (added a little color) here and see if others have any feedback on the topic.
Online learning has brought a great opportunity for both students and teachers in today's educational environment. It continues to evolve and K-12 institutions are finding ways to incorporate this medium of instruction in a number of creative ways. Traditionally, opting out of face-to-face and moving online has been associated with credit recovery, illness, participating in a class that their school does not offer, or particular situations that keep students from attending a traditional setting. I think we should be grateful to the online learning options for those situations. However opting out of all face-to-face education just "because" is not the right choice in my opinion.
I believe that a blended learning opportunity can better meet the needs of our students than opting out completely from the face-to-face environment. Blended learning was defined by Michael Horn and Heather Staker in The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning as,
"any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace"
This definition has been interpreted and rewritten in a number of different ways, however the definitions that I believe will allow our students to be successful in society have a meaningful face-to-face component. We have created this definition in my school district to guide our blended learning opportunity pilot by combining our own thoughts and those of others.
blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part in a Project-based, higher level thinking, brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student
control over time, place, path, and/or pace
"When PBL is done correctly, it engages the students in their learning. They are motivated by an authentic purpose that peeks their curiosity. Learning is differentiated through product, process, possibly content, choice, etc. Various learning styles are met, and student strengths are nourished. Teachers can work with small groups, and can meet individual needs." -Tracy Watanabe
I suppose there could also be an argument that PBL and higher level thinking can be facilitated online and not face-to-face, but a productive society still has to interact with one another sometime, so why not blend it.