Online, Blended, or Face-to-Face Learning: Which is Best?

Recently, I have been taking some google courses online and have been surprised by my reaction with the way I prefer to learn. I have always considered myself a “text” learner. I love reading and feel that I learn best that way, as I can go back and reread, go at my own pace, and have the ability to take notes as I please. This was the way I learned through university, and always just assumed it was the best way for me. However, through taking these online courses, I have found myself gravitating immediately to the video tutorials, and retaining the information much quicker and easier through watching a video, not reading the exact information in text. It brought me to question my traditions views on my learning style and why it has changed. It also led me to think about my students. Each student has a way they prefer to learn and a way that works best for them. Am I able to fulfill their needs throughout the day? Yes I use a variety of technologies, such as videos, iPads, laptops, as well as texts, and face-to-face interactions, but is this sufficient enough? What works best for them?

Tonight I participate in yet another twitter chat (my new addiction!), #edtechchat, and was excited to hear about the discussion on online, blended, and face-to-face learning. I guess I always assumed that online learning works best with adults/teens, but was shocked to hear it happening in kindergarten classes as well. Our discussion was filled with incredible ideas and opinions on learning in this day in age, and what the best options for our students are. Here’s a summary of our discussion:

Question #1 asked whether teachers worked in schools with online, blended, or face-to-face learning, so I’ll skip that question and jump right into the good stuff! For your reference, f2f means face-to-face.

Question #2: What do we see as primary advantages of online learning over f2f courses?

Question #3: What do we see as the primary advantages of teaching f2f over teaching online?

Question #4: How can blended learning take advantage of opportunities in both online and f2f settings?

Question #5: Teacher PD/training for online and blended courses is paramount… what’s your best resource?

Question #6: For those of you who teach, blended or online… what’s your top piece of advice?

As you can see, this discussion was filled with great ideas, recommendations, and beliefs. I think there were two things that stood out for me the most:
1) Blended learning appears to be the best option for learning. It allows that face-to-face contact, the ability to build those strong relationships with your students, chance to reach all learning styles, and still allows for continual learning and reviewing outside of the classroom. Learning becomes accessible to all students, anywhere. I wonder though how much additional work this requires? In a profession where there never seems to be enough time, it is attainable? Or is it one of those learning curves that takes awhile initially, but once you’ve mastered it, it’s just like typing out a lesson?
2) In our modern world, I believe it is a teacher’s duty to expose and teach kids about technology, the different tools, how to use it, and how it can help them learn. We are educating our students for jobs that we don’t even know will exist, so we need to provide them with the tools to be successful in the future. We must!

Below are a number of resources that were also provided through this chat. Thanks again to everyone for sharing their incredible ideas and knowledge.

10 Promising Free & Inexpensive Products for Blended Learning
37 Blended Learning Resources you can use Tomorrow
Blended Learning Universe
Project 24 – Planning for Progress
Quakertown Community School District – Blended Learning Program
Blended Learning Resource Page

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