Look on the (not) Bright Side, the drawbacks of a Blended Classroom

For today’s blog, I decided to take a contrarian point of view.  With good reason, the majority of instruction has focused on the positive aspects of blended learning.  Therefore, I decided to research some articles that focused on the negative aspects and drawbacks of a blended classroom.  However, being that I am an eternal optimist, I will attempt to offer a solution for each negative aspect.  Let’s begin.

My inspiration for this blog format came from one of my favourite childhood cartoons Anamaniacs.  Let’s take a break and remember, Good Idea Bad Idea.

CON #1

The first article I read opened with the most obvious concern, that being the financial cost of establishing an infrastructure necessary for a blended classroom.  Factors such as school location (urban/rural), economic status, and internet connectivity, are all capable of derailing a blended classroom. In the same way you need water to fish, you also need infrastructure to create a blended classroom.  If the schools cannot afford to create this structure, then the idea of a blended classroom is over before it can begin.

SOLUTION #1

While there is no perfect solution to solving this problem, there are some potential workarounds.  The most obvious solution is BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology).  A vast majority of students now own their own tablets, phones, or devices.  If we are capable of creating a blended classroom that is accessible

CON #2

Jennifer Hofmann discusses a number of different challenges and their solutions.  One of the issues she discusses is “resisting the urge to use technology simply because it is available”.  Teachers who are not as well-versed in technology, may simply push technology on their students without a full understanding of how to do it effectively.

SOLUTION #2

The easiest solution to this problem will come with time.  As more teachers become comfortable with technology and how to effectively integrate in the classroom, they will be able to pass this knowledge on to their colleagues.

Now of course, there will always be pushback and trepidation from teachers.  The best bet is to bring those teachers along slowly, allowing them to see the benefits themselves, rather than simply piling it all on their plate at once.

CON #3

The final issue we will discuss is brought forward by Arumina Majumdar, who states that “trying to keep track of learners’ progress can be the most difficult challenge to address”.  Arumina discusses how students may complete an online course, but if they have not developed a deep understanding, then the learning impact is wasted.

confused-studentsPhoto Credit: https://cdn.meme.am/cache/instances/folder121/65265121.jpg

SOLUTION #3

The answer to our third and final problem can be found in the type of assessments we provide for our students.  The students must be given both summative and formative assessments, to ensure that their learning has reached the appropriate level.  Furthermore, because we are discussing a blended class, and not just an online course, teachers must utilize the in-class time to evaluate and discuss the learning objectives with their students.  For me personally, I can examine the assignments a student hands in, but my best method for determining their level of understanding is from reading their faces after the explanation of a question.

Despite all the technology at our disposal, we must integrate it with traditional teaching elements in order to ensure the understanding and knowledge of our students.

In the comments, I would love to hear about other issues you could see arising from blended learning, and how best we could defeat these challenges.

Thanks,

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Look on the (not) Bright Side, the drawbacks of a Blended Classroom

  1. Con 1 I agree with your base solution, the issue I see would be the base infrastructure of having enough broadband, and servers connected to your network to make sure all those BOYT are functionable. In the urban, specifically secluded, spaces this probably isn’t a big issue, but the rural would see this more frequently.

    Con 2 – Love the quote. My personal philosophy around this idea is as educators we need to change an adapt with the times, and the times have certainly changed from 30, I mean 10, I mean 3 years ago. Constant change. Adapt or become inefficient/ineffective.

    Con 3 – Having a conversation with a student around a topic is one of my favorite ways to see true understanding. The difficulty is the time it takes to gain enough information for each student. For me I like to see more about the process of how they have developed their answers and seeing them work through their progress they demonstrate.

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  2. Wow! I forgot how dark Animaniacs was! I really enjoyed watching that clip, brought me back to some fun childhood memories!

    I really enjoyed your blog post as it raised some important questions we often forget to address. The question about having the necessary infrastructure to even set up a blended learning environment is probably one of the most important ones in my opinion. As much as we want to implement these structures in our classrooms, sometimes we need to accept the fact that we simply may not have the resources or the means to make these things a possibility. I feel as though I depend more and more on my students bringing in their own tools, as I often find that laptop availability at my school is non-existent, especially considering the fact that just about all senior grade classes are fighting over the four computer carts that we have.

    Although we’re slowly improving this situation (more and more kids have these tools and are bringing them to school), there will always be a few students who do not have these things.I think it’s important to assess the state of your school and what’s available before even attempting to implement any of these things, otherwise we end up abandoning or giving up on these ideas.

    i also found your second point very note-worthy, as we often tend to use digital tools simply because they are available, rather than trying to figure out innovative ways to redefine the way we use our tools. It’s harder than it sounds, but if we put in the work, we can figure out some very impressive ways to bring technology into the classroom.

    Thanks for the fun post Kyle!

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  3. I appreciate that you addressed the pros and cons of blended learning because I struggle with the same issues.
    A note just went home to the students at my school explaining the board rules for BYOD. I utilize the computer cart for at math and LA everyday, but it is shared in group rotations. So, to become a more blended classroom, we need to have more laptops and/or devices. I have hesitated to have my students bring a device to school because it is new to me and because I don’t think everyone has access to one.
    My other concern is the bandwidth of the wifi signal. Will my students even have access to internet?
    I will for sure give it a try!

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  4. Thanks for Sharing your article Kyle. I found it very relevant. Today WIFI was my nemesis. IT swears I have a good connection in my classroom and told me that I am surrounded by WIFI hubs, yet… The proof is in the pudding!

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  5. Great post Kyle! It is always important to look at all sides of a question before diving in, and I think it is important to look at some of the cons of blended learning before we create our own modules. Your con #2 is what I always think about when using tech in the classroom – is it really helping meet the outcomes? Or am I just using it to use it, to say that I am a tech-friendly teacher, that I am ‘in’ with the new techniques? It takes experience and knowledge of both the tech side and the curriculum side as well. I am teaching all new courses this year, and it has taken me awhile to firstly get a grasp of my curricular outcomes, and then afterwards see where tech would best fit and for what purposes. Not always easy, but definitely worth it in the end. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Nice post, Kyle! You definitely hit some good points. One situation that I know some of my colleagues encountered with blended courses at the university (and in that case “blended” is about time in classroom vs time doing tasks online), the students didn’t really understand what they registered for. They expected a typical face-to-face class and thought they would be lectured at while in class. The shift of the material to online and in-class for activities threw them. They didn’t feel comfortable with it. They just wanted to be told what content they needed to know. That particular issue says a lot about student expectations around learning which, I think, is a bigger thing that needs to be addressed with something like blended learning and even online learning. Student ownership of learning is important but too often they can get away with not really feeling like it’s their responsibility.

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  7. Great post, Kyle. I especially loved point number 3. I think we often forget blended includes f2f and that balancing traditional teaching with technology is also useful when assessing students’ understanding and needs. I need to remember this as well. Thanks for all your points and solutions.

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