Computers have greatly influenced the way in which we research, investigate and learn new information. They have influenced us so much, that classrooms across the globe have adapted their environment to integrate computers into daily practices. But now, computers aren’t always enough. We constantly crave information, and have become pretty good at finding things out for ourselves. So, how do we readjust our classroom environments and what teaching techniques do we employ to counteract that?
Here is a quick visual breakdown of the differences between the 3 types of learning environments: Face-to-Face / Hybrid / Online
The technique that is in the bold text references the method of approach best suited for the type of learning environment. Here is a quick overview of each, and why they are the best fit for their classroom type.
Face to Face – This type of environment allows for the participating individuals to engage in physical social interactions where emotion, expression and reaction all play a vital role in the learning outcomes. Often times this type of ‘in-person’ environment is conducive to hands-on group work. Group work and/or hands-on activities help to establish new knowledge quicker because the individual is a proactive part of the process and is reactive to the other individuals. Bielefeldt notes that “new knowledge is not simply transmitted by a teacher. Rather, the projects deemed it important that the students express and use their skills with hands-on activities in group settings that would make their knowledge manifest, shared and open to revision and extension. This constructivist, Vygotskian notion that learning is social and takes place at the frontiers of an individual’s prior and new knowledge” (Bielefeldt, p. 207). A face-to-face environment provides a common space to work in, and often times, the necessary materials to engage in collaborative and cooperative learning experiences.
Hybrid – This type of environment allows for a blended learning environment where participating individuals can engage in the course work online and in person. While the convenience of a hybrid course is great for scheduling purposes, it can also help facilitate more self-directed learning outside of the classroom and engaging interactions within the classroom. Since a hybrid class requires both in and out of classroom participation, two techniques are important: active learning (in-classroom) and mobile learning (out of classroom). Bates and Watson found that a Spanish language course benefitted greatly from a hybrid model. “This is a teaching methodology that emphasizes student interaction and the adaptation of the curricula to subject matter of interest to the student. Oral communication is the goal of current modern language instruction. A successful classroom setting in modern languages is on in which the students are interacting constantly and speaking the foreign language all the time” (Bates and Watson, p. 39). Conversely, “through online instruction, a student can learn by reading text, listening to audio, observing either still or animated images, watching videos, interacting with a virtual environment, or communicating via electronic mail” (Bates and Watson, p.39). Even though this discusses a foreign language course, it is a model that is easily applied to any subject. This does however, require a great amount of organization and clear communication from the teacher. For example, a biology class can do a bulk of the research and basics online, and then perform the lab experiments in the classroom. That type of hybrid course would require the students to complete self-directed mobile learning and then proactively engage in active learning.
Online – This type of environment allows for the participating individuals to complete all of the course work online. The teacher is no longer the central point of the learning, more rather a facilitator and guide. They provide the materials, questions and assignments, while the student takes the responsibility for the learning. There is no more lecturing and assessing, instead, “a professor could assign chapters, homework, and then a project requiring the student to evaluate three foreign markets for demand for a product and select the best one. The professor grades the student’s assessment of market potential, which is also a desired outcome” (Bates and Watson, p. 40). The online model provides the participating individual far more flexibility over their learning, it becomes learner-centered. The student must demonstrate a drive and capacity to engage in the learning for themselves. The level of involvement is indicated in the products they produce, like the project describe above. For example, the same biology class (mentioned above) might have to watch an experiment or read about an experiments results and then complete a project specific to their own environment. This type of online model would require the student to continually complete self-directed learning, making them the center of their own learning.
Questions for you:
Which environment do you feel is the best for you? Why? What about the teaching techniques makes it a successful learning environment for you? Do you notice any of the teaching techniques employed in the environments you are currently in? If so, are they successful? If not, which ones do you see, and are they successful, why or why not?
Resources for you:
Here is a great link to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. It is a quick 10 question survey that you can take to determine if online courses are for you.
Bellevue College has a great page on “What I Wish I’d Known Before Taking Online Courses”
Looking forward to your posts!