This week I chose to read two articles from the suggested weekly readings, namely “Asynchronous & Synchronous E-Learning” by Stefan Hrastinski, and “Using blended learning approaches to enhance teaching and learning outcomes in higher education” by Ron Oliver . The first one defines each type of e-Learning method and investigates the pros and cons of each kind, the tools that can be used in each method. The author mainly argues that instead of focusing on selecting the best mode of delivery we need to find why, when and how to e use these two techniques.
The second one briefly discusses key elements in success of a good designed blended learning environment. According to the latter article, the degree to which any learning environment is successful in delivering the desired learning outcomes to a great deal depends on its level of engaging students and learners in learning. The author asserts that an effective blended learning environment :
includes authentic learning tasks which fosters reflection, collaboration among students
provides its students with great support from the instructor and encourages peers and mentors assistance in their learning
benefits from current, appropriate & relevant learning materials and resources that support the learning outcomes.
In my opinion each of these underlying elements can be facilitated through using an appropriate portion of synchronous and asynchronous media in design of the blended learning Environment as discussed by Hrastinski. According to Hrastinski using synchronous learning can foster collaboration , instant team and teacher support and can be used for planning the group projects and teamwork as crucial elements of authentic learning activities (Brownfiled & Oliver, 2003). Asynchronous mode on the other hand provides learners with opportunities to reflect on their learning, benefit from doing more research on topics of more complicated nature. (Hrastinski, 2008)
I myself would prefer a blended e-Learning environment to enjoy both face-to-face communication as well as technology facilitated materials which I can access at my convenience. I think only providing the students with some supplementary material to support their learning do not encourage all of them enough to engage more in learning, whereas a good designed blended learning environment can involve students in various tasks appropriate for their learning conditions. Last but not least, in my opinion to produce highly educated and updated workforce we need to equip people with all the essential tools they need if we want to nurture independence in lifelong learning as well depicted by the picture below.
I end my reflection on the two articles with an interesting video which exemplifies the benefits of blended learning as a flexible learning tool that allows process of learning without clashes with other commitments :