As my New Media course draws to a conclusion, I am reminded again by my colleagues how important it is for educators to recognize and meet the varying needs of their learners.
Yes, I am a proponent of integrating technology in teaching but not always is it the right choice. Technology will not always meet the needs of certain students. Having some level interaction with instructors and other learners is needed to clarify points, exchange ideas and/or explore further application of the content learned.
In his interview with CNN, Bill Gates talks about delivering content via technology but still having labs or study groups. He believes not only this would be cost effective but also allows students to personalize their learning by focusing on information that they need.
I think this is can be true but several conditions need to be in place:
1. The participants need to know how to access and interact with the technology so they can focus on their learning
2. Course designers need to be clear on the key objectives of the course and their instructions so learners are not confused about what they need to do and why
3. Pure eLearning can be challenging to keep learners engaged, so having various technology and tools to relay the content is important
4. Learners need to take comfort that should they need access to someone to get help or just bouncing ideas with others, that they may do so without having to complete the online module
So once again, it seems a blended learning approach seems to be the winner here!