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Teachers still needed with self-paced blended learning

Posted By Contributor On February 28, 2014 @ 5:30 am In Blended Learning,Online Learning,Opinion,Top News | 1 Comment

Teachers need guidance and training when moving into a blended learning environment

teachers-blended-learning [1]

Blended Learning is an entirely new challenge—and chances are you won’t get everything right from the start.

Some teachers initially view self-paced blended learning [2] as a process where the “computer does the teaching” and the role of the teacher is diminished. Practical experience with this style of learning with middle school students over several years indicates that this is not the case.

The teacher is still very important; however, the role changes. In short, this change could be described as a teacher moving from a lecturer to a facilitator, explainer to intervener, generalist to specialist and thus from content focus to content skills and mind-set focus.

Some evidence now supports this view.

Students involved in these middle school courses have been surveyed over the past few years. Results of the surveys have been consistent. The classes were operated by some teachers experienced in a blended learning classroom and some who were not. A recent survey produced varying results. The most significant differences in results were investigated further.

When the results were separated by class/teacher, the one set of results that showed a significant negative variation was of a teacher who was inexperienced in a self-paced blended learning environment. Even when support material is available, transitioning to a new style of classroom interaction takes time and experience and the challenge for a less experienced teacher or teacher bound to traditional teaching methods is significant. This is an indicator that support for teachers transitioning to a new style of teaching should not be superficial; it may need to be in depth and ongoing.

(Next page: Survey results)

The Results of the Survey

Students respond annually to a number of survey questions. There is a five point scale for responses, with 1 being very positive and 5 being very negative, and with 3 being neutral.

The questions and average responses are shown below.

Question
“Normal” class response “Anomalous” class result percentage shift toward negative in “anomalous class”
How do you rate (overall) the way that we “do” this subject?
1.91 2.97 55
How do you find the online tutorial approach affects your learning in class?
2.05 2.70 32
How do you find the tutorial approach affects the speed of your learning?
2.27 3.13 38
Do you find the online approach better for reviewing information?
1.85 2.57 39
How easy is it to get help when you get “stuck” with a problem and you are not sure what to do?
2.09 2.83 35
Your teacher talks less often in this subject than in a “normal” class. Is this better for your learning?
1.65 2.23 35
Most of your time in class is spent “doing things,” with explanation from the teacher on occasion. Is this better for your learning?
1.8 2.23 24

This variation is also obvious when the percentage of the sum of 1 (very positive) and 2 (reasonably positive) results in each class are compared. The “normal” class results are once again similar to historical data. This is shown in the following table.

Question
“Normal” class percentage of 1 and 2 responses “Anomalous” class percentage of 1 and 2 responses
How do you rate (overall) the way that we “do” this subject?
82 43
How do you find the online tutorial approach affects your learning in class?
73 43
How do you find the tutorial approach affects the speed of your learning?
59 27
Do you find the online approach better for reviewing information?
73 53
How easy is it to get help when you get “stuck” with a problem and you are not sure what to do?
71 43
Your teacher talks less often in this subject than in a “normal” class. Is this better for your learning?
83 43
Most of your time in class is spent “doing things,” with explanation from the teacher on occasion. Is this better for your learning?
75 70

While variations between classes are expected and have been noted in the past, the variations shown here are noteworthy. The implications for teacher training and preparation are clearly significant.

Teachers need guidance and training when moving into a blended learning environment. The belief of the author is that this training needs to be practical as well as theoretical, and preferably should be modeled in the classroom. Support should be ongoing to ensure that the benefits of this style of learning are experienced by all.

Peter West is Director of eLearning at Saint Stephen’s College in Australia. He has over 15 years’ experience leading K12 schools in technology enhanced education, particularly blended learning using online learning environments. He can be contacted at pwest@ssc.qld.edu.au [3].

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[2] blended learning: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/01/21/successful-blended-learning-723/

[3] pwest@ssc.qld.edu.au: mailto:pwest@ssc.qld.edu.au

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