Blended Learning

It’s a phrase that many students have undoubtedly heard many times at La Trobe. It simply means that there is a mixture of online learning, and face to face classroom education as well. As it is a mixed system of schooling, it seems almost fitting that it receives mixed reviews from students, its positives sky high, but its short comings almost tragically low.

Shannon Jayamaha is doing a science course, he tells me that most of his work at home “is reading, and reading, and reading. If [he] doesn’t have to read something from the text book, [he] has to read it from the internet. The thing [he is] doing is the same, but he just swaps between [his] computer and his book.”

Another friend of mine, Michael Pizzato, is doing media. He tells me that “most of the work at home is just watching a short YouTube video. It’s great, but most people don’t do it anyway.”

There are positives and negatives hidden within both of their statements. For Shannon’s case, it is obvious that fact that the learning is ‘blended’, is irrelevant as the internet is providing nothing but a new stance or way to read the same thing. However, this does mean that he can be reading on the go, learning his work to and from Uni on his commute. One of the guidelines on the La Trobe website for blended learning asks, “does the online learning environment complement – and not simply mirror – the classroom learning environment?” For Shannon, the internet is a mirror.

As for Michael, he has positive feelings towards the system. He doesn’t have to sit around reading a book for hours every night. It’s something simple, and he knows how long it’s going to take. That said, it’s true that almost no one watches the videos anyway. Would these people have read x chapter in y book if that had been their homework? Probably not, but the blended learning system doesn’t solve that issue.

The biggest worry about the system is its first guideline. “Is at least 25% of the student’s workload based solely in the online learning environment?” To make an overarching guideline like this ignores whether or not the internet and online work is really relevant to that specific subject or class. For something like media, it’s great. The work online can be to watch a video and discuss what was seen in class. For something like law or art (I don’t take either of these subjects so I am not certain), the internet doesn’t seem as relevant. It doesn’t seem like there should be a minimum quota, rather online learning should be implemented when it is only going to add to a student’s learning.

 

By James Wallace

 

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