Blended Learning: MIT Blossoms

A lot of focus on bringing technology into classrooms has been leaning towards the revolution of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). With technology advancing and the cost of peripheral devices becoming even cheaper, more and more students are bringing their own electronic devices to class. But at what cost? Some say it only gives students a way of escaping the tedium of lecture through the capabilities of their device. Others argue that having these technologies in class have benefits that outweigh the cons. A school in Massachusetts takes a different approach. They don’t have the latest LCD projector or an iPad for every pupil, but they do have a TV and a VCR.

TV and VCR

 

The school is Arlington High School in Arlington, MA and the program is called MIT BLOSSOMS (Blended Learning Open Source Science Or Math Studies) and all it needs is a TV and a VCR. The program was founded by MIT professor Richard Larson and it employs the use of videos that are meant to be stopped at various points throughout its duration. When the teacher interrupts the video, they engage their students in an interactive lesson, followed by watching more of the video, and then back to interacting with the students…

students sleeping
…or waking them up.

With technology creeping its way into classrooms, teachers may be afraid that they would be replaced by machines in order to reduce costs. The great part about BLOSSOMS is that the videos are taught by experts in the field, but at the end of the day the teachers in the classroom are the ones who provide guidance to the students. They determine what to do with the time given between videos to best support their students’ way of learning. At Arlington, the students work in groups between watching the video. BLOSSOMS does not encourage students to work at their own pace, but rather as a team to accomplish the interactive exercises.

BLOSSOMS is another way that technology has been intertwined with the classroom effectively. Any classroom can download the lessons from BLOSSOMS and try their method of teaching with minimal overhead. As technology evolves our teaching methods should be advanced as well. But that doesn’t necessarily mean getting students the latest electronic devices. Making resources available online and providing an experience in the classroom that you can’t get at home are current trends that keep teachers competitive against the rise of the machines.

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