Yes, yes I am taking a MOOC (that’s a Massive Online Open Course for the uninitiated….and yep – it’s just about as geeky as it sounds, and definitely more fun!) I have tried this before, and wasn’t really impressed. HOWEVER, this course, titled “Today’s Blended Teacher: the Blended Schools MOOC” is all about blended classrooms, so it is more relevant, and is much better organized. Whether you call this format blended, hybrid, or flipped (which is not quite the same thing), it appears to be the direction that much of education is going. For those who are uncomfortable with a fully online class – whether it is in higher education, or elementary and secondary schools, it can really create functional and exciting ways for teachers to teach and learners to learn. As an instructional designer and an instructor, I frequently suggest that my faculty use this technique, especially for certain subjects – those requiring field work for example, or if they would benefit from complicated real-world projects where the student can go out and get the information online (maybe even doing some ground work), then come back to the classroom to discuss, create, and question.
Blended classrooms are, by definition, at least 50% online and 50% face-to-face. They allow students to do their own learning and discovering, but maintain the hands-on guidance that many instructors and students desire, and some subject matters require. Some of the examples that we have created in my office are a virtual reality airplane accident for an Accident Investigation class, a crane accident for a Safety class, a three course “block” of blended courses for Early Childhood and Elementary education, and a World Diversity course which is allowing students to discuss some very touch subjects in more protected ways. This course design is allowing these teachers to develop projects and assessments that meet more than one Learning Objective at a time, thereby giving them more time for learning and demanding less time for assessing. How can that not be a good thing!
Blended learning is here – and it has great places to go. I really am excited about this course I am taking. I have even enrolled my 13 year old son in a MOOC, and if he can keep up, I’m sure he will enjoy it as well. Yes, MOOCs are kind of “geeky” – but then so Runescape and Minecraft….and that being said, I will revel in my Geeky-ness, and continue my search for a certain police box driven by a man in a bowtie….and continue to learn about blended classrooms while I wait.