In protest of the pendulum

After yesterday’s 3rd F2F session with the cohort crew (kind of sounds like a weird band name), I have been thinking more about “blended learning”. We were placed into groups based off our research interests and I was in a room with others, but only one other was curious about flipped learning. The others were focused a little more on personalized learning.

I realized that flipped learning, in the context I am using it in, is really just a tool for being able to individualize or personalize the learning of my students. So, I think my new guiding question should read: 

How can I use the classroom flipping model in order to promote a blended learning approach in my classroom?
I was hoping that “blended learning” referred to combining elements of personalization and individualization, but thanks to this handy infographic below, I now understand that “blended learning” actually refers to the combination of online and in-person learning a student does (and in a blended learning model, both will exist). I feel settled about the “blended” term…but I’m still wrestling with the balance of personalization and individuation.

Here’s my beef: if all of the educational decision making power rests with the teacher, well, we move back towards a factory model of education where teachers pour knowledge into the little heads of students, just waiting to be filled up. In this paradigm, the teacher has all the power and there is a ridiculous inequity in the classroom. But I’m wondering if the pendulum swings all the way in the other direction, towards a system where the student solely decides what is important to learn, if we loose something here are well. In this model the student has all the power and the teacher serves to guide, mentor, and mediate the learning of young people. Think of us teachers here are “learning managers”.
I’m wondering what happens when important skills, facts, cultural knowledge, and possible passions never get unearthed? Imagine a society where people don’t learn about the Holocaust…just because they didn’t care about it. Imagine a world where people don’t learn basic math skills because they didn’t get around to it. Imagine a future where girls never get pushed to try computer programming or robotics because cultural forces that push them in other directions were just too strong. Perhaps there are some things that children should learn that they may not naturally gravitate towards. Perhaps there has to be a balance in power in the classroom…teacher and student craft together what is important to learn and partner together to make this happen.
We must be careful of pendulum swinging in education and use our practices, knowledge, and research to inform our choices in the classroom. Maybe I need to call what I am attempting “blended-balanced learning”: a balance between individuation and personalization with face to face and online learning.


1 thought on “In protest of the pendulum

  1. HI Celeste,
    It’s great to read about your wrestling with these ideas and getting some great research from the web to help you focus your ideas. I was driving home this afternoon listening to CBC’s Spark, and thought this podcast would also inspire you. You only need the first section talking about MOOCs, and though it is not addressing “blended learning” directly, it raises some interesting questions for you:

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