Does a teaching approach that blends technology with traditional teaching methods work better than a purely traditional approach?

September 16, 2008

Digital Education: Tech Research Update: “Blended” Learning Environments

Incorporating the Internet and other technologies into the classroom provides teachers with more ways to present material to students and more resources to help them learn. But does a teaching approach that blends technology with traditional teaching methods work better than a purely traditional approach?

That’s the question Shawna Strickland, director of the Respiratory Therapy Program at the University of Missouri’s School of Health Professions, hoped to answer in a study of college students that compared a “blended” technology and traditional learning environment with a traditional classroom with little or no technology use, according to this press release from the University of Missouri.

Strickland compared the level of student satisfaction in both environments and the academic performance of the students, and found that while achievement levels hardly varied between the two approaches, students in the “blended” environments reported feeling more confused about course requirements and less satisfied overall.

It’s good to see some research coming in about this subject, but I do have some hesitations about drawing hard and fast conclusions from this study. I definitely think student satisfaction levels–in K-12 as well as higher ed– correlate somewhat with how the teacher used the resources and how comfortable he or she was with those resources. A teacher using traditional methods of teaching might be more comfortable than someone attempting to learn an entirely new way of teaching, which could account for the differences in student satisfaction levels.

Strickland recognizes this in her study and predicts that when teachers become more comfortable using online resources and a “blended” approach, it will indeed become more favorable than a traditional classroom.

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Another article however suggests that blended learning approaches are effective … see Blended Learning Boosts Achievement A recent study conducted by the US Department of Ed found that students involved in blended learning programs generally performed better than students who participated in face-to-face instruction.

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