What is the future of higher education? Will college students continue to attend face-to-face classes? Is campus-based education necessary for adults or grownups self-directed enough to learn anywhere and at anytime? Will university and college buildings remain or will they become obsolete and give way to fully online education? Imagine how much time and money universities would save if they went fully online?
Reflecting on Traditional Face-to-face Classes
Asynchronous & Synchronous Classes
Would asynchronous online classes that are not based on specific time or place be enough for college students and adult learners or will students need to have live online synchronous classes so they can meet in real time? According to the findings of research studies conducted by Michael Power and Norman Vaughan, fully online asynchronous classes are not enough. There is a need for the live online synchronous class.
Blended Learning (BL) vs. Blended Online Learning (BOL)
Combining online and face-to-face is blended learning (BL), but combining online aysnchronous with synchronous or as I call it blended online learning (BOL). Blended Learning is not enough since it forces teachers and students to meet at the same place for learning. This limits learning to a given place and time. Web technologies are now allowing teachers and students to meet fully online for real time meeting without the constraints of having to meet a the same place for learning. Dr. Michael Power uses the term Blended Online Learning Design (BOLD) for fully online learning with any face-to-face campus-based meeting. The solution for students who are unable to come to campus is BOLD. Dr. Michael Power presented at the annual CO11 on BOLD. How popular is BOLD when compared to BL? How popular is BL when compared to fully online without synchronous meetings?
Research on Blended Online Learning on WizIQ
More research is needed to understand the value of Blended Online Learning (BOL) or BOLD as Michael Power refers to the design of fully online classes with asynchronous and synchronous elements. I interviewed 26 instructors online on WizIQ to learn about their experiences with BL and BOL. I learned that many instructors are still alone at their institutions when it comes to using blended learning and web technologies. The trend seems to be catching on but it’s not and the reason seems to be fear of technology and not being in control when technology does not deliver.
Blended Online Learning for MOOCs
Blended Online Learning (BOL) offers both asynchronous and synchronous modalities. Students are able to learn at their own pace anytime and anywhere but have the option of joining real-time face-to-face virtual online classes where everyone meets just as they would in a brick-and-mortar classroom in the traditional blended learning format. The first Massive Open Online Courses (MMOOCs) were designed in the BOL way. The MOOCs consisted of real-time online meetings and discussions in various personal learning environments. Participants of the first MOOCs created learning environments using blogs, wikis, Moodle, Second Life and met in social groups they created on Facebook, Google, and on Yahoo. The rationale behind MOOCs is to brings participants to learn together online in an open learning environment. WizIQ is perfect for MOOCs because it offers both the synchronous and asynchronous learning environments.