i “Blended” Learning | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Zach Fritz

Education has changed a lot in the past twenty-thirty years. Classes are not just text books and lectures anymore, they have evolved into more hands-on activities and include online lessons with new technology being developed. With the change in techniques of learning, students also have to adapt to the new methods. By looking through our class on one of the early process assignments in this unit, over three fourths of our class is in favor of the addition of online lessons to the “educational toolbox”. Most of us say that the moderation of online classes into the programs here really make a positive impact in our learning, which I agree with.

The ideal education I would like to receive needs a little bit of variety. Personally, I love hearing lectures. It is very easy for me to focus in on them and I retain a lot of information doing so. However, I also have enjoyed doing labs and other things that get me up and give me a first-hand experience. These two methods of learning alone are tools that you would find in a classroom setting. Studies have shown that a classroom type of learning environment provide a better process of learning than online courses would. The Harvard Business Review states the output of grades for students that just take online courses: “Students who participated in online courses had a mean 2.77 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, whereas students enrolled in face-to-face courses enrolled averaged a 2.98, according to the study.” After seeing this, it shows that schools with online courses are hindering the knowledge of their students. You receive more information in actual classroom.

That being said, the presence of a professor gives huge advantages over the absence of one. First off, you get the luxury of developing a connection with your professor. They are the people that are pushing you in the right direction for your future. It helps a lot if you are able to interact with them face-to-face instead of electronically. Another thing is that it keeps you on track with the set daily schedule. If you were to take an online course, you could take them whenever you wanted to before the due date. I am the type of person that likes to procrastinate so my stress level would be tested with online courses. Classroom education keeps you disciplined if that isn’t one of your strong qualities. For example, when I was in high school, I had a teacher assigned to me as an advisor. As an underclassmen, classes seemed like the least of my worries, but my adviser was not on my side with that idea. She really pushed me to work as hard as I can so that I could be headed a positive direction after high school. If I would have been in online schooling, I would have never had that person to push me to be my best and I might be stuck at being a mediocre student struggling to get by. I cannot thank her enough for what she had done for me.

While having that teacher to be connected with is a positive educational tool, online lessons being incorporated into a CLASSROOM setting can boost the learning potential. That teacher I told you about before, my adviser. She was the first teacher in our school to introduce the flipped classroom idea into her class’s curriculum. “Why not use of technological talents to our advantages” she would always tell us, which does make sense. Our generation has been born into and adapted to the world of technology. The idea of watching videos online of our lesson sparked our interest because it was a new way of learning in a classroom and we were curious about how it would work and it benefited in the classroom. Instead of having to teach a lesson for half the time then work the other half, we had the whole class to do in-class activities. I really saw an advantage for it when I talked to my friend, whom had a different teacher for the same course, about the final we had taken. He had struggled with remembering how to complete the work for the problems. That shows the benefit that I received from being able to spend a whole class working on problems. Online classes sprinkled into traditional education can motivate students. That variety peaks interest in students by being able to develop learning with a different process.

The education I am receiving right now at St. Norbert is the perfect blend of the “old school” and new learning. A friend of mine in class, Bel, made a strong point agreeing with the idea of “blended learning”: “Online classes are a good tool that should be included in the educational toolbox.” Her stating online classes as a tool means that they would not be as efficient alone, but with the blend, it enhances our learning. For example, this writing class alone is nice because it is a class with some lectures daily, but there is no need to write with a paper and pencil. My handwriting is already my biggest struggle when it comes to writing, so eliminating that makes it a lot easier. I also feel more productive typing papers than writing them because it makes my ideas flow more freely than writing where I have to worry about erasing if something doesn’t sound right. The use of Snoodle also gives an advantage to being online. I have the ability to check my grades and access all the notes, lessons, and assignments which is very efficient and easy to navigate. I am happy to say that I feel that I am reaching my full potential here at St. Norbert due to its successful use of “blended learning”.

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