Perhaps the Best Rationale for Blended Learning I’ve Heard


Every now and then you run across an argument made by someone else that you’d wished you had the clarity (or temerity) to make oneself!

I am currently participating in a course entitled “Blended Learning” offered by Illinois Online Network (ION).  It had highlighted a faculty perspective video by Dr. Matthew Stoltzfus, who teaches general chemistry at the Ohio State University.  I then noticed that he did TED talk that includes in it a very graphic example of the fact that chemistry and medical education has practical requirements, yet chemistry and medical education has not changed (in his example in over 700 years) away from the large lecture halls that evolved after the printing press.

 The reality is that our biomedical students don’t read much any more, and we don’t often require them to do so. I particularly like Stoltzfus showing data from studies that show EEG activity when they watch TV, attend lectures and compare that with sleep! I won’t ruin the punchline but at least go to the following section of that video around 2 minutes into the video, and you’ll see what I mean.  Otherwise, I highly recommend the entire video for his discussion about where technology should be “necessary” for education, but not “necessary” to just capture and repackage lectures.  He describes the new insights provided by classroom technology like Learning Catalytics by Dr. Eric Mazur and colleagues of MIT, and purchased by Pearson in 2013:

Learning Catalytics (Pearson)

So, Stoltzfus concurs: We will always need teachers, but we need them not to be just lecturing anymore.