“The goal of this course is to test the limits, and see how we can bring together both the traditional learning and the online elements available in higher education. This is the wave of the future in the classroom—not substituting one for the other, but bringing together both (Beshkin 2000).”
It always comes down to balance. In teaching, nothing has ever been nor will it ever be the “whole enchilada,” the “one panacea,” the “be all and end all.” Finding the point of equilibrium, the fulcrum position that allows all systems to work together for learning synergy is the key. Such is the case with online learning vs what Beshkin is referring to as “traditional learning.”
CCO Public Domain: https://pixabay.com/en/fork-egg-balance-art-1431302/
Because balance is the key, I realize that I don’t want a “paperless classroom.” At this time in my career, I am still teaching in a face-to-face classroom. Why would I want to forego the opportunity for my students to take their own photographs, learn and apply a new art technique to the picture, and then display the artwork with a poem of their own creation in a building-wide gallery during parent-teacher conferences? Why would I forego the opportunity to have students discuss in face-to-face small groups and create a mind map on a huge Post-It Note for display and discussion on the classroom walls? If I am afforded the luxury of the best of both worlds–the blended classroom–why would I even try to push all of the student production into one or the other category? So in this hybrid of balance…what are my roles?
Researcher and Practitioner:
I must learn about and use online platforms, tools, and websites that will give my students an “online classroom” in which to learn, collaborate, create and share. I must stay abreast of both online/technological and “traditional” tools, strategies, and pedagogies that will support engaged, rigorous, authentic, and student-centered learning experiences and products. I must stay current on how to ensure the safety of my students and the integrity of their digital footprint while they are in my classroom. I must, myself, be an active, digital citizen.
Critical Dissector and Assembler:
I must critically analyze the purposes for and the goals of each lesson, assignment and assessment. Then, I must carefully determine when those purposes or goals can best be met by an online experience or product, or a face-to-face experience or concrete product, or a mixture of both.
A maestro is intimately knowledgeable about the entire musical composition and creates an environment in which each musician can perform to the best of his or her ability and contribute successfully to the whole of the musical experience. I must be deeply knowledgeable about the whole learning experience that I want my students to participate in: the platform, strategies, tools, websites, discussions, activities, content, all aspects. I then need to make certain that each student understands and can participate successfully in his or her learning experiences independently and collaboratively. I then need to ensure that whether students are working independently or collaboratively, the whole of learning environment and experience operates smoothly and well in order to allow everyone successful completion of their learning goals.
A museum curator is in charge of creating an environment for display and safe-keeping of many different types of artifacts. The curator ensures that patrons understand the purpose of meaning of an artifact through its position in a display or by placing descriptions or explanations by the artifact. A museum needs a storage place, a work area of restoration of artifacts, a display area and a research area. I need to provide and take care of the same types of places for my students. Both my brick and mortar classroom (BMC) and my online classroom (OC) will need to supply an individual work space, a collaborative work space, and a space for collecting and curating the work that has been completed. The display area of the OC would need to be able to handle many different types of student work artifacts: audio, video, text, images, and formats that I’m certain that I have never heard of before. So too will the display area of the BMC.