Yesterday evening, one of my classmates shared a personal experience regarding the use of online instructional media to supplement traditional lecture course. In addition to normal teaching, she uploaded videos onto Scholar to further explain relevant subject matter: material that could be accessed by her students at any time from any location. This person indicated that her students universally valued this approach, as assessed via teaching evaluations. I appreciated hearing this experience, and I think it demonstrates one of the ways we can use technology to enhance classroom learning without detracting from the conventional, immersive experience.
When I was an undergraduate, certain large introductory courses began offering supplementary podcasts in a similar manner. This may have been more utilitarian than progressive; students such as myself would attend multiple lecture sections of organic chemistry each day in order to hear the same material several times from different instructors. This resulted in students seated in the isles and standing in the back, often times causing issues with the building administration for exceeding the fire code maximum occupancy. This continued after the release of the podcasts, because their basic form was unable to compete with the lecture hall experience.
My point is that, despite my general skepticism of online and electronic learning as an exclusive teaching modality, I think it has tremendous value as a supplement to the classroom experience. In particular, combining face-to-face lecture and discussion with take-home media (that can be paused and repeated) delivers the best of both old and new. Faculty that can incorporate creative solutions such as this will indeed be valuable to their departments, but it has to be done in innovative and intelligent ways that consider the real needs of your students.
In addition to potentially being able to reach a larger audience, a hybrid course format accommodates a variety of learning styles. We all know that a single approach doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, and providing options should 1) encourage intellectual diversity in the classroom, 2) provide a more adaptable learning experience and 3) generally improve student performance on the subject matter. As we all strive to become better instructors, I think it is important to be cognizant of emerging technological tools and incorporate them in ways that genuinely enhance the learning experience.