Traditional vs Blended learning article

Just a quick post based on an article George Siemens mentioned in his blog post.

From http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922155902.htm

Strickland discovered that there were few statistical differences between the effectiveness of a traditional course delivery method and a hybrid one. The student satisfaction evaluation also revealed that students in the hybrid classrooms are more frequently confused regarding course requirements. It also was noted that the students who completed the course in a traditional setting were more pleased with the course outcomes than the students who completed the blended course.

The comment that students in hybrid (blended) classrooms are more frequently confused regarding course requirements is interesting and I suspect is due to a range of factors such as:

  • Cognitive load. People unfamiliar and uncomfortable with technology have to learn new technologies on top of what they are actually there to learn. I know I struggle to read online. I’d much rather read from a hard copy. On top of this when reading online there are a multitude of distractions such as emails arriving etc.
  • Context. In a classroom setting the instructor can verbally and visually create a context for the topic they are teaching at that particular time. This is often more difficult in an online environment.
  • Course outcomes. In a face-to-face classroom the instructor often explains the desired outcomes for the course at the start of the course whereas in the online setting the student is linked to a document which details the outcomes. On top of this the instructor can point out important items during the course based on his knowledge that the online cohort can often miss out on.

In my (limited) experience with online learning I’ve often found that the course outline or learning objectives aren’t detailed or specific enough for me to be able to sort out whats important and whats less important in a way that gives me a clear understanding (or context) of what I’m there to learn. Add to this that the course outline is most often written by the instructor who is intimately familiar with the material and may tend to use language that the learner is yet to learn. From my perspective it might be wise to spend a bit more time making sure the course outline is meeting the requirements of the learner.

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