Is Blended Learning Making Us Stupid, Too?

Author(s): Ray Archee

The title of this paper echoes Nicholas Carr’s (2008) article, Is Google Making Us Stupid?, which evoked heated debate around the issue of whether the Internet was having negative effects upon human concentration and learning. While this paper agrees that blended learning has the same issues as the Internet, blended learning is under the control of organizations, institutions, instructors and students. Whether our brains are being changed for better or worse is not the critical question, but how much confidence we ascribe to blended learning. This paper argues that blended learning should be regarded as blended teaching because the phrase comprises a contested assumption. Educators, by their selection of traditional and online media, have complete control over this teaching, but students, in the end, are the ultimate arbiters of their own learning .

My own teaching experience with blended learning started in 1996 when I received a grant to purchase a Linuxbased server, which was placed on the backbone of my university’s network. Since that time I have created web pages, bulletin boards, and chat sites and run courses, which have always included a website component, effectively creating blended learning, before the term became de rigueur, around the year, 2005. In the 1990’s I ran
elective classes in researching websites, forums and chat sites. In the next decade, the startup years of Learning Management Systems such as WebCT and Moodle, I continuously ran my own set of custom Web-based support pages, piloting Flash tutorials, and voice messaging, while most instructors used banal proprietary software or nothing at all. In 2000, I allowed students to attend in fully online mode thus creating my institution’s first
totally online subject. More recently I have been utilizing platform savvy, WordPress sites, opening up new forms of interactivity such as online research and writing labs, and video presentation assignments.

The main hypothesis of the Nicholas Carr’s article [1] was that Google (a symbol for the Internet) was having a negative impact on the way in which people focus and reflect, thus our learning and thinking were diminished by using the Internet. Carr’s article created a stream of debate, some critics agreed, some denied this singular idea that the screen-based environment was destroying forever our ability to concentrate and learn the way we
used to. Reference [2] agreed with Carr’s finding that people displayed different reading behavior online in contrast to offline reading. They found that concentration, comprehension, absorption and recall rates were significantly lower when reading material online, as opposed to offline. This paper asks if blended learning contributes to cognitive change, and decidedly concludes, no.


Journal: Open Journal of Social Sciences
DOI: 10.4236/jss.2015.39010 (PDF)
Paper Id: 59699 (metadata)

See also: Comments to Paper

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