Two weeks ago now, the Premier’s Technology Council released their 21st Century Learning vision that promoted the idea of a hybrid model of online learning combined with face-to-face learning. It really isn’t anything new. The school district I educate in has such a model as do many others. Others on the other hand have online-only courses. Depending on the learner, there are merits to both models but below is a video that I would like to use to support the face-to-face interaction. It is an extreme example but I feel it is one of the greatest things about going to school. A short description: The video link below is short video of an annual tradition, a good old-fashioned Hoe Down on the last day of classes before the Christmas Break that is open to all students and staff. All are encouraged to wear their ‘western’ clothing and participate. As you will see there are hundreds in attendance!
The students spent many class periods learning and practicing the dance moves and sequences of traditional square dance, together with their peers, sharing time and personal space. When I watch this annual tradition take place each year, I am blown away and it reminds me about how important it is for our students to interact with one another, face-to-face. To go one step further, a former colleague of mine said it is important for kids to come to school and not just learn subject matter, but to be bullied, be bullies, and feel the difference between right and wrong in the various situations school has to offer. He was referring to the education “outside of the education.” Of course his sentiments should be given more context but his point was there is crucial learning going on for our students than in the classrooms alone. He was referring to the real life skills that came from the social aspect of school. This school year alone, I have witnessed more students dropping out of classes for pure online options over a variety of jurisdictions competing for enrolment.
So what is my point? There is a very large and attractive movement to support interconnectedness inside and outside the classroom and I am all for it. All of my classes are currently involved with online tools. I am also all for the face-to-face social lessons that social media simply cannot provide. A balanced education system will hopefully give students a balanced set of knowledge and life skills. I am all for using technology to empower and enhance education, not to replace it. Technology and interconnectedness are taking over but as Gino Bondi wrote on Twitter, “It’s not about the tech but how it’s used.” As an educator, I am all for the hybrid model!