Why this? Why now? Once I enrolled at Royal Roads University to take my Masters in Learning and Technology, these are the questions I hear. Although usually couched in less overtly ageist terms. I joke that after 20some years of teaching, it was time to learn how. The truth is, though, that the changes and opportunities on the horizon in blended learning excite me. And will, I believe, require different teaching methods and course designs.
I’ve been experimenting with blending learning for almost as long as I’ve been teaching. I see the future as an opportunity to design experiences that incorporate what we know about how people learn – both online and face-to-face – with the advances in cognitive neuroscience and the experienced realities of different technologies and environments.
There are a million questions and finding answers is surprisingly difficult. For example, is there a difference in a face-to-face session held in a classroom compared with the same lesson held in a live online classroom? Is this still a face-to-face experience or does the technology morph it into something else?
Each theory has evolved into its own discipline or silo of practitioners, researchers and advocates, some of whom seem more concerned with hanging on to their patch of “the truth” than in taking a look with fresh eyes.
Not all of course. In the last few years particularly, there has been some interesting cross-discipline work that re-examines the shifting arguments between “cognitivism writ large and a range of methodologies such as behavior-based AI, ecological psychology, embodied and distributed cognition, dynamical systems theory, and nonclassical forms of connectionism, among others … in order to understand how the debate looks in this new context.” (Calvo & Symons, 2014. n.p.). Now is the time to re-examine what we know because “while cognitive neuroscience is in its infancy as a field, theories of learning will need to incorporate and account for this growing body of empirical data.” (Kelly, 2011. n.p.)
The future, as I see it, is in blended delivery with the best of face-to-face integrated with the affordances of online technology to create truly effective learning experiences.
I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to learn and grow; It’s never too late to learn something new.
Calvo, P., and Symons, J., 2014. The Architecture of Cognition : Rethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn’s Systematicity Challenge. Cambridge, US: The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/lib/royalroads/reader.action?docID=10861576
Kelly, A. E. (2011), Can Cognitive Neuroscience Ground a Science of Learning?. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43: 17–23. doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00702.x