Our collective writing – Similarities Between Traditional and Online Learning

The following essay, stating the similarities between traditional and online learning, was developed collaboratively. The introduction was written in class, by the teacher, shaping students’ abundant contributions into a coherent piece and ending with the stipulated thesis statement. Then, also as a whole-class, the main similarities were brainstormed and the three most relevant ones were selected. Students were divided into groups and each group wrote one of the development paragraphs, which were later typed by the students in our collaborative wiki, where all the group members had the chance to revise their paragraph and make changes to make the text more effective. Finally, a student who had missed the class wrote the conclusion. Of course, since it’s a collective essay, it may perhaps sound a bit artificial or present an overuse of transition words. The point of the assignment was to put into practice the techniques learned in the chapter about comparison essays and use the cohesive devices proposed. It was an interesting experience of sharing and negotiating thinking and composing processes.

 

There are two different environments of learning – face-to-face and online. When people think about these two, they naturally consider their differences. For example, virtual classes are claimed to be less engaging than face-to-face ones, or less demanding, for that matter. Conversely, the fact that the former have a more flexible schedule than the latter is generally highlighted. In sum, differences favoring one or the other environment of instruction abound. What many times is overlooked is that, though e-learning and face-to-face learning are different in many aspects, there are also some relevant similarities.

First of all, contrary to what many people think, both online and face-to-face learning require a lot of work. Both demand, for instance, considerable planning from the teacher and studying from the students. Furthermore, the students’ participation is equally necessary and effective; likewise, class management may be essential for achieving great results in the classroom and online. Also, teachers and students know that giving and receiving feedback is important in both environments. In the same way, assignments are a huge part of the learning experience, since it is great practice for everyone involved.

As unbelievable as it may seem, online classes can be as entertaining as face-to-face ones. Although it is not possible to move chairs around or to have talking corners in an online environment, it is just as possible to include songs, movies, games, discussions and other entertaining activities. Besides, technology by itself can serve as a source of entertainment, because when you use a video chat or an app like Songify, students can have as much fun as in a face-to-face class.

Moreover, e-learning can be as effective as face-to-face learning. People can achieve satisfactory results in both environments, since these are able to host discussions of the same level. Usually, online classes are underestimated for their lack of personal interaction. However, this preconception is being left behind with the rising popularization of social networking resources. Nowadays, there are many technological tools capable of allowing students to interact with their classmates and teacher. Good examples of virtual interaction artifices are Facebook, the Moodle Platform, Wikispaces and Skype. All of them are social media devices used in online classes to minimize the distance between students and to make online classes as interesting as face-to-face ones.

As seen, e-learning can be as great as the face-to face learning environment. Students can benefit from the interaction teachers can provide in the forum they create presented in the online environment. They can have fun with games, activities, quizzes and also videos that contextualize the topics proposed by teachers. These facts show that students will benefit from online classes as well as they already benefit from face-to face classes. In summary, an e-learning environment is certainly another good way to help students improve and develop their skills.

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My views on the blended course

 

The Internet has made its way into classrooms around the world. As time passes by, it is more common to see entire schools adapting to on-line activities, such as reading articles from websites, sharing less with friends, giving feedback on portfolios, and posting compositions in platforms. In this Teaching Development Course, it was not any  different and I believe this e-learning technique was the highlight of my entire Casa Thomas Jefferson experience so far. Since, for now, there has been nothing like it in any other semester of the T.D.C., it is of extreme importance that this blended course not only survive but also spread over the semesters, making it a natural environment where students and teachers can learn a lot from each other and from this amazing tool called “the Internet”.

Initially, I was not so sure about this whole idea of being in classroom once a week; however, it did not take me more than a week to realize it would result in a great experience. Writing the essays was incredibly fun, since there was constant feedback from my classmates and teacher. This way, all students were able to learn how to listen to different opinions, how to choose the correct words when giving feedback, how to be flexible enough to change what they are told to. Had it been a classroom-based course, all of that might not have been in our package, for it would all be concentrated in the hands of the teacher. Thus, this democratization was one of the greatest things the Internet brought to the Writing Course.

Besides, looking back at all the assignments, the time factor was equally important to the quality of my essays. The fact that I could, with ease, write, edit, and send my essays whenever I wanted to not only saved me time but also gave me a sense of freedom. Furthermore, when it came to sharing, having this on-line communication was fundamental. I could receive feedback as soon as somebody read it, being this right after I posted it or in the middle of the night, while I was asleep, which would never happen as quickly if this method had not been not implemented. There is no doubt that the amount of time we all had in this Writing Course contributed to all my drafts.

Some might say the blended course took a bit of the oral practice away from the students, since some of the classes that were supposed to be spent in the classroom were spent behind a computer. However, from now on, depending on how it is done, the verbal skills can also be developed in connection with the writing. For instance, a student has finished his/her essay and, instead of receiving textual feedback, he/she receives an audio file containing opinions and suggestions from his/her peer.

All of the points above only serve to show how important it is to have this blended course going on forever. The Internet’s influence will invade the classrooms anyway; so, the ones who use it for their benefit will be the smartest. Sincerely, I had never thought I would enjoy this course as much as I did. The online classes gave a big twist to the entire learning experience, and I cannot see the Writing Course happening without the Internet anymore. It was a real pleasure, XOXO.