Monday, April 18, 2011

Face-to-Face vs. Online: Over-Zealous Extremophiles vs. Hyper-Romantic Luddites

"Hybrids always win!" Eventually.  Education that mixes place, schedule, media, synchronous/asynchronous, responsibility, stage of expertise, authority, responsibility, role

For more than fifty years, new applications of information and telecommunications technologies have arrived with claims about their abilities to record, reproduce, or offer alternatives to various dimensions of face-to-face interactions.  Many of these claims have been over-zealous and misleading, but many have understated or missed what emerged later as widely useful.  As the capabilities and availability of these technologies continue to increase and costs diminish it becomes ever clearer that

  • no technology intermediated experience can be the same in every significant way as a face-to-face experience for every participant.
  • for some people, for some purposes, under some conditions, face-to-face interaction is superior to all other kinds.
  • for some people, for some purposes, under some conditions, some technologically intermediated interaction is superior to face-to-face interaction.
[NOTE:  Almost every kind of education offered in recorded history has actually been a “hybrid” or “blended” combination of face-to-face interaction and other “technologies.”  Examples of “hybrid” activities included within “traditional” face-to-face education:  students read assigned chapters in books without any direct supervision;  students meet in a bar and argue about a topic raised in a course they take together while drinking.  Substitute “cafĂ©” for “bar” if you wish.]

Steve Gilbert, TLT Group
FTF vs. Hybrid (FISE)

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