Examining Blended Learning Models: Student-To-Technology Interaction

5-interactions-of-a-blended-learning-modelIn part 1 of this 6-part series, Thomas Stanley looked at an overview of blended learning, specifically the critical interactions of a blended learning model. In part 2, he looked specifically at student-to-student interaction, and the reality of synchronous and asynchronous access. In part 3, he looked at student-to-teacher interactions, and moving from instruction to becoming the “guide on the side,” and in part 4 he explored the idea of student-to-community interactions. In part 5, Stanley examined Student-to-material interactions as part of the blended learning model, specifically the process of project-based learning in a blended classroom, while in the final installment below, he looks at the interaction between student and technology.

Student-to-Technology Interaction

Student-to-Technology is not as easy as it seems!

A common statement in the online world by adults is that students understand how to use technology better than adults; after all, they have been brought up with it. After ten years of working with online students I have noticed that many of them know how to play games, to blog, and to download music, but, generally, do not know how to use technology as a learning tool.

When working with students on using technology, the teacher’s responsibility is to teach the students the difference between gaming, blogging, and doing high level academic work. One of an instructor’s first questions to answer is, “How do you determine the right learning tool to use?” In general, the type of program(s) that you want to use is(are) one(s) that will help make the student be more interactive with the academic material? The lessons and programs that students are asked to use should create a work-group experience that allows them to post key ideas for others to see.

paulproteusIt can also be beneficial for them to defend their ideas, and see their own thinking process. Another important consideration is to select tools that allow students to do real-world activities by using productive multimedia tools, working closely with worldwide experts, and effectively using original research materials. This allows individuals and groups to work closely together on high-level academic projects. It also creates lessons that properly use online programs and it will increase the students’ understanding of the material. One important side effect to this is that it also escalates their commitment to learning.

In order to do the high level of technological work, it is important to have short tutorials available for students to use for just-in-time learning. At first it is important to supply students with a model of this type of work. Then the student should be given the academic resources or information (such as pictures or audio) and be allowed to learn the proper use of the software. And finally, pupils should be given a significant assignment that uses the technological programs to explain or present their academic and intellectual viewpoints or findings to others. It is best to do short two-three minute presentations for students to do as a first project and then to expand the process as the year goes along.

Digital Learning Tools

There are a multitude of programs that are available for students to use and it is essential to determine which series of technological programs fit the academic requirements of a project. Multimedia programs such as Audacity, Camtasia, and PhotoStory can produce simple but effective lessons. The proper use of interactive activities such as wikis, blogs, social media, Evernote, Teachertube, Voicethread, Soo Meta, Teen Second Life, and podcasting are all digital learning tools that might be used to teach the student how to use 21st century technology.

Evaluation of the student’s work can be based on how each pupil accomplishes their specifically assigned technological, academic, social, presentation, and group tasks during a project. A portion of their final grade is how well they use the technology to present their materials. All students should be given a grading rubric for each of their assigned tasks in each area of the project, i.e., the technological portion is one part of their grade. A student’s final grade is based on his/her own individual responsibilities and his/her group efforts.

It requires a great deal of work on the part of the teacher to stay up with this type of program. By incorporating technology as a part of the online learning environment, a student will develop the critical thinking skills necessary to be successful academically. These types of assignments or activities also help prepare the student for the workplace of the 21st Century.

Image attribution flicker user paulproteus