A menudo, cuando en alguna conferencia explico las posibilidades de la educación en línea, suele haber quién me hace una pregunta que quiere ser retórica: “Perdone, ¿verdad que el mejor modelo educativo es el mixto o blended?” Todo el que hace esta pregunta espera una respuesta del estilo: “Sí. Claro que sí.” Pero no es verdad, y quizás reciben mi respuesta con el pie cambiado.

Un modelo es mejor o peor en función de cómo dé respuesta a las necesidades de las personas que lo van a utilizar. No hay un único modelo que sea “el mejor”. Es cierto que quien está acostumbrado a la enseñanza presencial se encuentra ciertamente incómodo cuando lo tiene que hacer todo online. Lo entiendo. Pero también es verdad que un modelo blended sólo puede dar buena respuesta -si está bien diseñado- a estudiantes que dispongan de las condiciones (disponibilidad de tiempo, posibilidades de desplazamiento, etc.) para asistir presencialmente a una parte de las clases. Como veis, a pesar de sus potenciales beneficios, que los tiene, no será un buen modelo para todos aquellos que no puedan desplazarse o que tengan constricciones de carácter horario, debido a cualquier motivo laboral, familiar o personal.

A pesar de ello, a quien tiene la experiencia mayoritaria de la educación presencial, le cuesta aceptar este razonamiento. En estos días, sin embargo, la situación de emergencia nos ha puesto un ejemplo perfecto de lo que estaba diciendo. La gente está en confinada en casa y, por tanto, no puede salir. Podemos desarrollar un modelo blended? La respuesta evidente es que no, incluso para aquellos más acérrimos defensores de este modelo. ¿Podemos decir entonces que este es el “mejor” modelo? No, lo será según las circunstancias y según a quién nos dirijamos.

All this came to mind because these days there is no longer talk about blended modalities, but of online education. And when we talk about online education, we also have to talk about different models, which will be more or less adequate depending on the objectives we set ourselves.

In this post I will not be exhaustive, but brief, and I will refer to the models that we are currently seeing that more people or institutions want to promote.

Teclado - Online education
Source: digitallearning.eletsonline.com/

Let’s start with the repository model, a model in which content, materials and resources are made available to students remotely through a LMS or platform, which the student can access whenever they want and wherever they are. It does not require being synchronous. Another model is that of video-lessons. Teachers record their lesson, just as they would in class, and make it accessible to their students; they can do it synchronously or asynchronously. There is also the activity-based model. Teachers propose a series of activities and make access to resources available to solve them, or students are asked to search for these resources online; being synchronous is not required. Finally, the network learning communities’ model is based on the joint collaboration of all the participants, who face challenges and help each other to find the solution.

All these models, and others that I have not mentioned here today, can be grouped into two large blocks: those that are based on self-learning and those that are based on accompaniment ad support. This difference is very important.

Online education is often thought of as simply facilitating access to resources for students to learn. This is the definition of self-study, or independent study. But these are two concepts that have existed for centuries, and which have also demonstrated their obvious shortcomings. Is this better than nothing? Of course it is, but as educators we can aspire to something else for our society. Without support, without accompaniment by teachers, only a small percentage of people learn what they should learn, or learn it at the level of depth they need to. The models that I have described can be carried out with or without teacher support, but there is a trend to think that the teacher can only imitate or replicate what he does in the classroom, and this is wrong.

A good model of online education makes available to students a good educational design in the form of a course, a technological environment that works and responds when stressed, provides the best content and resources in the most appropriate formats, establishes a mechanism through which classmates can collaborate with each other and, finally, makes the accompaniment and support of expert teachers available, which helps in the development of activities, solving doubts and evaluating achievements. Doing it entirely or partially in synchronous or asynchronous mode and deciding what technological tools to use will depend largely on how our students are and where they are, and on the options they can activate. But never because we give up on providing them the most complete and value-added model possible.

Therefore, it is necessary to know what we are talking about and to speak clearly, without creating any unnecessary confusion.