If you are engaged with online learning and are confused by the terminology, you are not alone.Valerie Irvine
, Assistant Professor, Educational Technology, and Co-Director of the Technology Integration and Evaluation (TIE) Research Lab at the University of Victoria writes, On today's higher education campus, there are likely a dozen new terms being used to describe different configurations around the modality of courses.
Photo: Pavel Popov © 2020Modality
typically refers to the location and timing of interactions. What used to be a simple binary of face-to-face
has now become so extremely complex that our ability to understand each other is impaired.
History of Modality
In the early, simpler days of online teaching and learning, somewhere in the middle of the 1990s (not including radio or written correspondence courses), the lack of high-speed internet limited communication primarily to text. Online
meant only one thing: text-based, asynchronous
learning. In asynchronous learning, communication is not
happening at the same time or "live." Instead, it is time-delayed through tools such as email, static websites, and forums, albeit sometimes these were supplemented with the random image and some manual emoticons :-). This learning was also openly accessible by default, a fact that got lost somewhere along the way, but we have been finding our open origins again in the last decade. Blended learning
emerged in North America as a term to refer to the mix of on-campus/face-to-face learning and online activities. This learning was typically referred to in a consecutive manner: instructional hours were reduced to allow for online interactions, or those online interactions were seen as supplemental to the face-to-face experience. In other parts of the world, such as Australia, hybrid learning
was the equivalent term for blended learning, so the two have been synonyms for decades.
In the mid-2000s, the next leap that occurred was major: new software enabled personal laptops or desktops to connect directly to room-based videoconferencing systems. Where there was strong and stable internet available, this allowed individuals anywhere in the world to connect to videoconference rooms, transforming them more fully into video-enabled classrooms
. The point-to-point leash had been broken, and the possibilities were limitless for merging modes for learning and including groups on campus, remote groups, and dispersed remote individuals. The merging of modes had now become enmeshed. The challenge was describing it—to administrators, to learners, and in the research literature. The result of the merged modes was not face-to-face or online learning. It also was not blended (hybrid) learning. The result was a combination, with varying mixes of who controls the modality...
In a time of significant shifts to online learning in a variety of configurations, we should try to utilize common terminology to describe our intended designs and practices. This is an exciting time to re-create how we teach, but in our drive to redefine ourselves, we need to be careful not to overstep in redefining terms that have been cemented in our present and past. We must focus on the meaning of our words in order to create a shared understanding for the future of our academic discourse, our professional practice, and our learners.Read more...
Source: EDUCAUSE Review