The merits of mixing things up

Each week, Symposium Magazine invites an author to guest-blog. This week, Judith Sebesta is blogging about “College for All, Or Just For Some?

When I began teaching full-time in higher education in 1997, the options for delivery of information and interactions with students were quite limited: we met in a classroom, I lectured, we discussed. I felt quite creative when I facilitated group projects or showed a/v with my slide projector and TV/VCR.

With technological developments and the increasing extension of learning beyond the physical classroom into cyberspace, pedagogical options now seem limitless.

Given that individual students learn through different methods, I think having these options is a good thing. So I’m amused each time I hear yet another pundit protesting competency-based learning, MOOCs, and the next innovation du jour. I don’t understand the fear they express that any of these will replace the “traditional” classroom.

While I believe that the most effective pedagogies today combine digital technologies with face-to-face interaction in blended/hybrid learning, I applaud the existence of a variety of options on a spectrum of methodologies.

That spectrum of teaching/learning methods should exist parallel to a continuum of non-hierarchical educational opportunities at every level, from pre-K-12, to higher education, to workforce training, and community and continuing education and enrichment. Technology is opening up myriad options to support learners at all levels and of all stripes, and this gives me hope that answering my call in my article for a wider range of policy and educational tools is indeed possible.

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