What is blended learning exactly? It seems that it means many different things to many different people. Meanings range from using any technology in learning to using internet technologies for learning alongside more traditional methods of teaching (such as lecture). Let us take the later meaning as our own, and go from there. The class is called “Web 2.0 and Participatory e-Learning” isn’t it? Here is an example of a possibility for blended learning in a religious college environment: http://mypage.iu.edu/~rwadholm/onesmallvoice/chapter1Past.html. I created this piece of a site in an earlier class at IU for an assignment. Within the site are a video related to the theme, a wiki worked into the materials, an online quiz, and links to references. The site is very incomplete, and lacks any actual wiki, but was mainly an idea for instruction using a Web site.
Blended learning can occur outside of formal education as well. And this is the promise of the internet for learning (or as my Professor Bonk refers to it, the “Web of learning”). Check out MIT’s online courses for a preview of what is to come around the globe as teaching and learning becomes more open and free, and learning objects become freely shared among teachers and learners. Learners become the driving force behind their own education. The boundaries between formal and informal learning are blurred. Learners take responsibility for their own learning, and seek learning, not merely paper accredidation (although, a degree from MIT would look nice on my resume).
One question though: is open and free online learning sustainable long-term? Can qualified educators continue to offer their expertise online for reduced or no cost? Can learning continue if no direct accountability occurs for the student? Education is expensive in time, money, and resources. Can the lowered cost of online or blended learning lower the cost of education itself? Can blended learning help tuition go down (or not go up several thousand dollars each year)? Will learners and educators get more bang for their buck with open learning options? Is there sustainable funding for such ventures? In a knowledge-based economy, would government grants be appropriate for subsidizing open education options in order to boost the knowledge base of the population and hopefully stimulate the economy long-term?