Blended

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Something was wrong this morning. I couldn’t get my tie right. On my first try, the knot was too small. One the second try the tie was too short. I just couldn’t get it right. I’ve never understood why they haven’t standardized ties. Some are too long while some are too skinny. So many things in our life are standardized. Why not ties? They should all be the same size.

The problem with my tie was that I couldn’t get the knot right. I’ve always tied my ties like my father showed me about thirty years ago. In tie parlance the knot he taught me is called “the four in hand” and is likely the most popular knot out there–slender and simple. However, this morning it just wasn’t cutting it. The problem with the four in hand is that the tie loosens and slips down throughout the day. I always have to adjust it. On my drive this morning, I decided that it was time to try something new. So, I got to school a little early and was determined to give a new knot–the Windsor–a try. Like most days when I want to learn something new, I checked out YouTube and found this video:

Since the video was shot from the point of view of the person tying the tie, it was easy to follow the video instructions. In less than three minutes I was sporting a new Windsor knot. The thing is, if I didn’t understand it, I could have replayed the video as many times as I needed to. I could learn at my own pace. Here’s what I can’t get over: I had always wanted to know how to tie a Windsor but never tried. For thirty years I’ve used the four in hand my father taught me. Not any more! Thanks to YouTube, I nailed the Windsor in only a few minutes. Best of all, my tie didn’t need to be adjusted the entire day.

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For anyone interested in blended learning, this book is the place to start.

So, what’s the point? As adults we learn using the Internet as it suits our needs. The same holds true for our students. They no longer learn only sitting in a classroom; the Internet has changed that. The model that marries the traditional with the virtual is called blended learning. Whether it’s a video on YouTube or Lynda.com, online tutorials and classes are part of how we learn now. Whenever I want to learn something new, I watch a video. If we are all learning online now, why are the classes we teach not?

I’ve become more focused on this dichotomy as I realize that we should be supporting traditional instruction with online instruction. A powerful learning management system like Blackboard, Canvas, or Schoology makes doing it rather simple. At the least, instructional videos can be posted to YouTube with ease. We just have to commit to move in the online direction. No more waiting. The book on the right is pretty much the gold standard in terms of laying out a philosophy about blended instruction. My copy was just delivered today. Over the next few weeks I’ll read and reflect here about blended learning. The term might be new to some but the concept is not. Personalizing learning by adopting an online component so students can learn at their own pace needs to happen. Why not start today?