While it’s important to have the support of parents and teachers in transitioning to a blended learning model, the most vital participants are the students themselves. After all, schools are there for the sole purpose of serving students’ interests, and even though they may not realize it yet, students are the ones with the most at stake.
In this third and final chapter of our three-part series, we’ll look at common misconceptions that students have about blended learning and how educators and even parents can clear up those misunderstandings.
Blended learning means I’m going to be taught by a computer.
The idea that blended learning means replacing teachers with technology is pervasive, even among students. This makes communication absolutely vital. Ensure students have multiple avenues for contacting you and asking questions, and be sure to respond promptly to e-mails and other requests. Also take the time to develop a rapport with students and get to know their needs and learning habits. This assures them they’re not alone and reminds them they have a human resource they can reach out to for help. It also reinforces the idea that you are personally invested in their education.
Blended learning is going to be easy. You just sit at a computer and that’s it!
When taking a blended learning course for the first time, many students make the mistake of thinking that it’s going to be a breeze. After all, everything is done on a computer, so that means no homework and no responsibilities, right? Wrong. And that’s where students run into trouble. If students have low expectations from the outset, they can easily fall behind and find themselves struggling for the rest of the school year to catch up. Set clear expectations from the beginning of what kind of rigor the course will demand. Students need and want to be challenged, and challenging students is what keeps them engaged.
When colleges see my transcripts, they won’t think blended learning courses are rigorous enough.
College bound students may have concerns about how blended learning courses will affect their ability to get into the higher education institutions of their choice. If a student expresses these kinds of doubts, take some time to talk to them about their future plans. Applying to college can be a daunting process, and many students just aren’t aware of what it is institutions are really looking for. Explain how taking courses with online components shows off their college readiness and can actually look really good on their transcripts since taking online courses is fast becoming a necessity for many college students. Also, help students understand the role their overall GPA, test scores, and involvement in school and community activities play in getting accepted.
Blended learning makes it easy to cheat since all the answers are online. I’ll never get caught.
Many students think that working in an online or blended learning environment means they can simply copy and paste answers from Wikipedia. Some of them know what they’re doing is cheating, but the scarier part is that many of them don’t. Worst of all, a growing number of them don’t understand what plagiarism is or the impact it can have on their academic careers. Start your blended learning course off right by ensuring that students understand the concept of plagiarism and its consequences. Also, be attentive. There will always be students who cheat, but they are much less likely to do so if they know you’re paying attention to their work.
Blended learning means I won’t get to interact with classmates.
A common problem with online courses is that students can be left feeling isolated because it takes away the opportunity to interact with their peers. This is one area where blended learning actually benefits students because it offers them the chance to make those interpersonal connections during class time. Be sure to take advantage of this and plan group activities to give students time to work with their classmates. Building those connections and learning how to cooperate with peers helps students develop the important social skills they will need later in life and in their careers.