Blended Learning

In the last two weeks, we have been working on designing a course for introducing high students to the world of University. We have tried to experiment the use of digital white board but after some experience we roll back to the presentation in google docs. It was fun to try the digital white board but it would have been difficult to make a presentation out of it. It just looked messy, confusing an without a focus. I doubt that it could have been of real help to new students.

One of the topics we touched is the Blended learning topic. Blended learning is the augmentation of traditional learning approaches with media and internet technologies. Blended learning still requires the presence of both teacher and students and traditional face to face meetings in class. Flipping classroom is still a kind of blended learning but more extreme as lectures are online and instructors are present in class for helping students during their assignment. Blended learning is a more incremental approach and probably the way to go when it comes to the future of technology.

Blended learning is based on an effective use of technologies in class. I am a strong believer in technologies and I think that as a teacher I should open up to all new and experiment. However, as inexperienced person it is easy to overdo when it comes to the use of technology in class. In reality, some of the tools are not really needed but they are just a surplus. At the end what really matters, it is the content. It is important to explain in simple way and appeal different kind of learners. This is somehow more difficult in online learning but several new tools and approaches are becoming more and more available.

Where I can see a future in online learning technologies is the part regarding to automatic assessment of student assignments. I teach computer and many homeworks consist of designing and implementing codes. Instead of having a TA downloading the codes, compiling and running them, it would much better to have a code doing that for you. There are platforms that can be used to check the output of the code, how much time it takes to run and its usage of memory. Webcat is one of the most famous platform. Also stepic is rather popular tool. MIT released its own platform for automatic assessment of assignment. Another possibility is to use student peer-grading. This semester I have used the https://www.peergrade.io platform and I found it extremely well done and useful. It is a tool with no bugs and software-wise much better developed than all the software we are often required to use at the school.

Overall, I believe that technology will be more and more present in class and courses and I can see how this will be done incrementally via blended approach.

References and websites

  1. web-cat tool for automatic grading  http://web-cat.org/
  2. stepic tool for automatic grading https://stepik.org/
  3. http://news.mit.edu/2013/automatically-grading-programming-homework-0603
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One thought on “Blended Learning

  1. Haha, right Stefano, we were not very successful using the collaboration whitebord, so I guess the students won’t be either… Maybe for a presentation, but not for working/learning.

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