Throughout my EdTech Masters at Marian (fully online), I often reflect on the growing reliance on online learning . When I began this program, I envisioned an entire online curriculum, complete with web tools for every learning experience and style needed for my students, paired with me as a facilitator to differentiated learning.
Having just completed a three-week summer course in which my high school students had 1:1 chromebooks, I’m tempering my enthusiasm for 100% online learning. I swung the pendulum too far toward technology, away from face-to-face collaboration. Students became silent drones, the blue glow of a laptop screen dimming any chance of building discussion skills. As a teacher of speech and language, this was disconcerting.
I’ve seen a similar drawback in my Marian online cohort. I’ve had fruitful debates with colleagues at PD sessions throughout my career. We get to know each other in flesh and blood, allowing for a quicker, natural level of comfort that opens us up to lively debate. Sadly, I’ve never met any of my fellow Marian EdTech-ies, which I feel contributes to the high level of agreeable responses and minimal critical discussion. Perhaps the blended cohorts have an easier time critiquing each other, but the overwhelming amount of discussion replies begin with "I agree.." or "Me too!" This shows me that we are afraid to engage in critique with a stranger and search out opportunities for platitudes so we can reach our discussion grade quota.
As is typically the case in life and education, a balance of technology and traditional learning should be our goal. My middle schoolers will have 1:1 laptops this school year. I hope to create a learning atmosphere that prompts collaboration and learning with and without technology, so students are building social and 21st century skills.