Good and bad blended instruction
Posted April 19, 2017on:
When most people speak of “blended learning”, they might actually be thinking about blended instruction. (Here are some considerations of blending that focuses on learning.)
There are many ways to blend instruction. Some might involve the modes (off and online), the content (seamless multidisciplinary content), and the pedagogy (direct instruction with x-based learning).
Most would justify blending based on the best possible outcomes. For example, in the case of blended modes, being face-to-face affords immediacy in social learning while still being able to leverage on timely resources online.
Not many might point out the worst of blending, particularly blended instruction. For example, someone might blend boring didactic teaching with YouTube recordings of irrelevant content.
Blending the teaching or learning processes does not necessarily lead to better outcomes. The contextual design of blending is critical. Online strategies and tools might not work as well in a low bandwidth environment, language might be a barrier in one context, and pedagogical expectations might be different in another. Here are examples of each.
When I lead talks, I find out how comfortable my participants are with going online with their phones. Depending on the country, venue, and people, I might resort to low bandwidth texting-like activities and think-pair-share instead of challenging them to watch and recommend YouTube videos.
I have conducted a variety of workshops for equally varied groups. When English is not the common language, I rely on activities and succinct pitstops to get the messages through. When I am with a group more familiar with training instead of teaching, I need not worry about much pedagogical baggage from my learners.
Bloggers, Pinterest boards, and tweets might declare blended learning to be engaging. They might be referring to blended teaching instead. Such an experience is not automatically engaging, and if blending is left only with the one who is teaching, is certainly not empowering.