When asked to rate the class using these questions, students were generally positive in their assessments. Students in both classes were overall reluctant to give either teacher poor marks, but the class taught by the teacher comfortable with blended learning topped the “anomalous” class—significantly—in every question. The students in the comfortable blended class averaged mainly 1s and 2s in their assessments, while students in the other class averaged responses that crept closer to “neutral” in many cases.
In fact, the percentage of students in the blended class who answered the questions positively (1 or a 2), rather than neutrally (3) or negatively (4 or 5), typically was over 70 percent. The “anomalous” class had a much lower percentage of students responding positively.
Classes of students vary in many ways, and differences between classes always exist. Teachers interact with classes in different ways, and this is part of the individuality of teaching and learning. Surveys can always be improved, and we should all be cautious about results from a single survey.
However, the results of this survey combined with a knowledge of previous survey results, a working knowledge of the school, the course and the students highlighted some good points. This survey result, combined with some other feedback, led to a change in the style of professional development provided to staff. In an effort to better prepare teachers for a blended learning environment, professional development was restructured to a blended learning model, allowing teachers to experience more facets of the learning environment being introduced.
Leaders of schools need to ensure that teachers who work with blended learning courses are trained in the pedagogical differences between the blended learning environment and the traditional classroom. Assuming that a teacher will automatically know what to do can create problems. It may add unnecessary stress to the life of the teacher, and it may hamper learning outcomes of students. On a larger scale, it may produce the perception amongst students, parents and teachers that blended learning “doesn’t work;” blended learning “works”—we just need to ensure that we adequately prepare for its implementation.
Peter West is director of eLearning at Saint Stephen’s College in Australia. He has more than 15 years’ experience leading K-12 schools in technology enhanced education, particularly blended learning using online learning environments. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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