Massage schools and instructors are beyond the point of deciding whether or not to use online education. The crucial task at hand is how to implement it.
Online Learning Can Be Challenging.
In a traditional classroom setting, an instructor can tell when a student drifts off. A computer can't. When you are learning online, you may be at home, at work on your lunch break, or in your car waiting to pick up kids from school. It's harder to focus and easy to become distracted. Think you are a good at multitasking? Research says otherwise. In addition, classes that are exclusively online can have a high attrition (drop-out) rate, as online courses often treat students as a “lone learner.”
So, what do we do? Why not use both?
What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning combines traditional classroom instruction with online learning. The goal is to promote academic success by optimizing the learning experience. For example, students may spend part of their lesson time watching web-based tutorials and documentaries, or interacting with classmates and instructors online. There is something almost magical about blending instructor-led classroom instruction with self-paced online instruction, as each delivers something the other does not.
What Does The Research Say?
According to research, blended learning can result in better learning outcomes as well as increased enrollment and retention.
Cited in the U.S. Department of Education’s Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.” And, notably, “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.”
The Trend To Blend.
Many instructors are already using blended learning. Use of strategic online resources can energize the learning environment, foster creative thinking and promote learner-constructed knowledge. Students can explore course content and engage in meaningful online discussions. When instructors facilitate discussions of problem-based client scenarios, students are better prepared to solve problems they will face in their clinical practice.
Schools and instructors must incorporate some aspect of e-learning into their curriculum. The 21st century learner spends a great deal of time in the digital world of computers, cell phones and video games. According to DeLacey and Leonard, " Students not only learned more when online sessions were added to traditional courses, but student interaction and satisfaction improved as well."
Attend "Blending Learning—Integrating Face-to-Face and Online Learning" at the AMTA 2013 Schools Summit, Feb. 7-8 in Chicago, and learn a slightly different approach to online learning. Find out how to use micro-lessons to support traditional instruction and enable students to make the essential connection between strategies and outcomes. Students are quite comfortable sharing ideas online in collaborative discussions within social networks; discover how to integrate platforms that are familiar to them, such as Facebook and Twitter. Hope you see you there!
Susan Salvo is a massage therapist with 30 years of experience, and has written several best-selling massage and pathology textbooks and online courses. She has a Master's degree in educational leadership and instructional technology. As an instructor, she utilizes online materials to enhance the traditional classroom.