Blended learning and the paradox of the experienced teacher

Yet this ignores the fact that even good things can be improved. If this weren’t true, we would all be driving Model T cars. We would still be using a fax to communicate instead of using the internet, we would be using portable cassette players for music instead of MP3 files on solid state memory devices, and we would be using pagers instead of cell phones.

Limiting the pace of learning to the pace of teaching provided by the teacher is no longer necessary. Limiting the major parts of learning to a particular time and physical location (a timetabled lesson when the teacher is present) is no longer necessary. Learning from the person who physically stands at the front of a classroom, instead of drawing on the resources of the best minds from anywhere on the planet, is no longer necessary.

No matter how effective a teacher is, he or she cannot provide all of these things all of the time. This is something that the successful, experienced teacher might find difficult to understand.

Yet by letting go of some of these things, and by allowing students greater flexibility, the effective teacher can move to even more rewarding areas of student learning and engagement.

The alternative is that we have “pager” teachers and “pager” education in a cell phone world.

‘On the fly’ lesson preparation

A successful experienced teacher knows a topic well and has enough experience to teach a lesson on the fly. However, a blended learning environment, where the learning resources (as compared to teaching resources—see “It’s called blended learning (not blended teaching) for a reason”) are provided in a structured Online Learning Environment (OLE) or Learning Management System (LMS), cannot be built on the run. These courses must be built well ahead of the current learning topic. Experience has shown that some students will work at a very fast pace and will absorb material as quickly as the teacher loads it into the system.

The teacher is no longer the gatekeeper of knowledge, and there is no such thing as teaching on the fly in the world of blended learning.

‘My’ resources

Teachers often create good teaching and learning resources, such as worksheets, revision documents, practice tests, and presentations.

Experienced teachers know what works and what doesn’t work.

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