California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    The ‘Blended Classroom’ Experiment

    In today’s day and age it seems as if new technologies are created every day to redefine the way we live. Technology has also redefined education.

    At California Lutheran University new technologies are being woven into the curriculum. In that context, the blended classroom is a modern way of redefining the way classes are taught.

    Dr. Jean Sandlin, professor of communication at California Lutheran University, is participating in the blended classroom experiment.

    “In the blended classroom, you meet face to face 50 percent of the time and for the other 50 percent there are online learning activities,” Sandlin said. “Those could be a video taped lecture with some follow up-questions, a worksheet, a discussion board, something that the instructor feels is going to be useful to help students understand the concepts that are being talked about in class.”

    This allows students more control over time, place and pace.

    Dr. Sandlin argued that the effectiveness of the program is yet to be determined.

    “We are involved in the study to actually find that out. There is a lot of information out there saying that students learn best with these blended courses. They took online learning and face-to-face learning and they are pretty much the same, but these blended courses seem to be the best for student learners,” Sandlin said. She explained that these studies were done in larger universities but none have been done at a university the size of Cal Lutheran.

    “There are a lot of us out there, so in order to see if this is a direction that a university of our size should take, we need to study it.”

    Because this pilot program is still a new experimental concept, students at Cal Lutheran are chosen at random and are unaware they are part of the program until the first day of class.

    This aspect seems to be of great concern for some students.

    Andrew Pineda, an economics major at Cal Lutheran, participated in the blended classroom experiment last semester and expressed his frusturation with it.

    “We didn’t have a choice in the class because it was experimental. It was like a blind survey, so we were informed on the first day of class that the class you’re in is full and waitlisted but one can participate in a blended program,” Pineda said. “We didn’t have any choice and the thing that was frustrating with that is a lot of students, myself included, prefer having three lectures a week.”

    Pineda also mentioned the technology had a tendency to have a lot of glitches which was very frustrating.

    “Part of it was probably because it was experimental, but it took us close to a month before we were allowed to work online. It wasn’t set up, it was confusing, and answers were bad or wrong sometimes,” Pineda said.

    Lack of communication with the professors also seems to be an issue for students. Michelle Hendrix, a senior at Cal Lutheran, also took part in the blended classroom experiment and was frustrated by the fact that she was unable to ask the professor a question right away.

    “You know there were moments in the recorded lectures that I was not understanding, no matter how many times I re-watched it. And the fact that I couldn’t raise my hand and immediately ask the professor to clarify was very frustrating,” Hendrix said.

    Pineda also had a similar issue with a lack of accessibility to the teacher.

    “I just felt unprepared. I felt that the program did not help me learn really,” said Pineda. He compared this class to all the other classes he had with the same teacher.

    “I took this program with Dr. Hersh, and I am taking two more classes with him this semester. I am getting the material so much faster and more easily, while with the blended class I wasn’t understanding and I was struggling.”

    Furthermore, many students felt a lack of community in the class.

    “I felt so isolated in my class and a lot of other students did too. The average grade for every test in this class was below 60 percent,” Pineda said.

    Although the faculty appears to be very excited about this program, not all of the students who have taken these classes are pleased. It is a bit frustrating paying for a class students are not prepared for. Also, many students need those classes for their major requirements and if they struggle with the material due to the pilot program then that can not only jeopardize their grades but also their understanding of future material in other courses.

    “I felt as though I wasn’t learning as well as I could. I just wish they allowed students to choose to participate in that program,” Hendrix said. “I know there are some students that would benefit from this form of teaching and learning, but my classmates and I did not benefit at all.”

    Although technology is very useful it is not always reliable or available to everyone. What if a student does not have access to a computer or does not have the right computer?

    However it is important to note the effectiveness of the program has yet to be determined. But perhaps universities should stick to face-to-face classes.


    Juliette Roland
    Published February 4th, 2015