There is a great debate among educators as to which type of learning approach is better, face to face or online.
Jose Bowen in his book Teaching Naked asserts that as educators we need to think of our courses as products that need to be more accessible to learners and have the ability to be individualized for each learner’s needs/interests. This is no easy feat to accomplish!
Although there may be a greater push to place our courses online to meet the demand and allow flexibility, one needs to really conduct a needs analysis. Some of the questions to explore are:
- How their targeted audience would be willing to use the product?
- What makes the course unique, and
- Whether the course objectives can be in fact achieved through an online environment
In their survey Gosper and colleagues found that most students in higher education do like to use technology for learning but they were specific in how they used it. For example they liked to use technology to access content through the universities’ established LMS, researching databases or viewing announcements. However, there was not much support found in students’ willingness to use social media for their learning. Walker and Jorn state in their article that students still like to maintain some degree of face to face contact with their classmates and instructor.
These findings leads me to believe that a blended approach may be more viable option for many learning events. Educators and trainers can offer the content for their courses online so that students can access on their own time, but still set up some opportunities for face to face interaction.
In the face to face sessions, the focus is more about clarifying points, answering questions, and more importantly having deeper discussions on how the new found knowledge can be applied.
For me the next step would be to see if face to face contact can be truly achieved using a web based media. Hopefully this would address the needs of the students to stay in contact but also allows for greater access to the course by participants who may be from diverse geographical areas. This would result in the course being rich in content and dialogue from different perspectives but still keep it accessible and flexible for all to join.