I wasn't aware that I was teaching "blended" classes. Great name, not hybrid, but instead a face to face class with an online component. The reading for this week got me thinking about how I sometimes hesitate with the amount of content I put online, possibly in fear that the students might stop showing up. It all comes down to this question:
If the content is online, then why go to class?
This discussion is intriguing and when it is fully digested, it eventually makes the case for strong professors. I have had many students who have taken online classes and decided that "it wasn't for them," because they need the interaction with other students and the professor. To me, this seems to be a reaction from online classes that have too little participation between instructor and student. I believe that it is the same realization when students watch the lectures only, then don't retain the material in the same way as if they here to attend class. My wife is a health coach, and they have tried many different “automated” programs to cut costs and decrease the need for personal interaction with the clients. What they found was that the clients lost motivation and had a much lower success rate when the coach wasn’t directly interacting in the pursuit of goals of the client.
This makes intuitive sense to me. If all it took were the information, we wouldn’t need schools, all we would need are libraries. The Internet would have quickly destroyed teaching if this is all they needed. But I do think it takes the experience to realize the importance of the professor.
Posting online materials has other benefits as well if using an open system. The reading discussed an experiment where students were able to take the class without receiving credit in a system that did not require them to be registered with the university. As someone who believes that sharing is good for both professors and students, I love this idea. I recently read an article discussing how Blackboard is losing traction and the company itself is forecasting a decrease in usage. Blackboard doesn't allow for this type of communication with the outside world, and along with the cost, is one of the worst parts of closed systems. If we believe that our education provides value to students, then we should allow that value to reach as many as possible.