I started the week describing what I see as a continuum of teaching and learning from textbook enhanced to online. In between are technology enhanced, web enhanced and blended. To really understand blended learning and teaching (a combination of face-to-face and online tools and strategies), it is important to understand online teaching and teaching. Regardless of the category, the elements of teaching and learning include the student, the teacher and the curriculum (content). Defining “blended learning” or “online learning” really involves four questions:
- What is the student doing and where is the student?
- What is the teacher doing and where is the teacher?
- What is the content?
- Where is the content?
In online teaching and learning the student is usually on a computer reading or viewing the curriculum or completing assignments. The student is usually at home or in a computer lab as compared to sitting in a classroom with desks and a teacher in front of the room. The teacher is usually in some type of office setting which could be at a school or office or home. The content is usually not in print, but, often the digital textbook is still the base curriculum. What the teacher is doing with the content and the strategies used to teach online is where there is a considerable difference as compared with a textbook or technology enhanced teacher. The following tools (and there are many others) are utilized by an online teacher: email, instant messaging, online dropbox, some type of course management system, online gradebook, online discussion boards, chat rooms, online video conferencing and the host of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, videos and podcasts that can be used both as the curriculum and as student work. The chart below illustrates the components of “online teaching and learning.”