First let me provide a video about blended learning to explain what has happened in the way we teach and learn. I highly recommend you watch it before you read my post.
Today I learned that I will have the privilege of teaching for Georgia Virtual schools come Spring 2015. It is an exciting time to teach online. Classroom environments are changing and it is important that as educators we learn to teach effectively online. Plus, this opportunity will allow me to reach more students and hopefully get more students excited about fields in Computer Science and Technology.
I am also currently enrolled in GaTech's online Masters of Computer Science and it has been an insightful experience. I have become very aware of effective vs. ineffective methods of teaching online and I am fascinated by the learning and teaching that is encountered in these virtual classrooms. The nature of the classroom can either be engaging or not and it really boils down to the instructors and how much time they dedicate to making students feel like they are part of a class. Does it sound similar to a typical classroom in a school?
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Classes:
I am going to also explain a little about two types of online classrooms: synchronous vs. asynchronous. eLearners.com writes in their article Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Classes:
"Synchronous online classes are those that require students and instructors to be online at the same time. Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be online at that specific hour in order to participate.
Asynchronous classes are just the opposite. Instructors provide materials, lectures, tests, and assignments that can be accessed at any time. Students may be given a time frame – usually a one week window – during which they need to connect at least once or twice. But overall, students are free to contribute whenever they choose."The classes I take online for GaTech are actually a blended approach to these two types of online classrooms. We meet once a week with a professor on Google Hangouts but get all our assignments via video lectures and online posts. During the Google Hangout, we have with our professor, who by the way can have over 200 students a semester, he allows us to ask questions. The session is then recorded and it becomes available for us to view. The video contains links to cued video of the questions he answers. The class I take also has an online forum where students help students. We post questions about a particular assignment or lecture and help each other out. Peer help is one of the things I thought I would miss the most while taking online classes but luckily these online forums make this possible. Plus, imagine having over 200 computer scientists available to answer your questions. This would obviously be impossible to attain in a regular classroom.
I will leave you with a video that gives you examples of the benefits of blended learning. The video explains how a whiteboard can no longer reach all of our students and he asks how then do we accommodate for these 21st century students?