Blended learning basics

New learning style shows new advantages and disadvantages


Delano Lockhart

Senior Angelica Santiago logs on to the platform Canvas so that she can do her homework for her U.S Government class. Canvas is a popular platform used in blended learning classes.

Delano Lockhart, Staff Writer

Teachers standing in front of a small, white, brick room filled with 25 pairs of eyes staring at them for 45 minutes is how most MN students are used to being taught. However,  a different approach has recently emerged: blended learning.  

This year, MN introduced its very first set of blended learning classes: U.S. Government and Economics, College Algebra, and College Writing. 

These three classes are the test run of this brand new program and are led by social studies teacher Lance Ott, math teacher Kathryn Etzelmiller, and English teacher and IBDP coordinator Amber Ripa. 

According to the district, the blended learning program uses a combination of online learning and face-to-face classes (traditional learning), allowing students to learn at a time that works best for them. 

When these students have their online class days they use an online program called Canvas, this website keeps their online assignments, notes, and lectures organized.

“The other big advantage is that students are going to see this type of model when they get to college, and to have the experience now will help them prepare for the future,” assistant principal Aaron Bearinger said. 

This course takes place fifty percent of the time in a traditional classroom setting and the other fifty percent in an online setting. 

Ott prefers to meet with his U.S. government students three days out of the week. The other two days, the students work online doing their homework and classwork that he has assigned. 

This is the first time these three teachers have taught a course like this, which has come with new challenges.

“Going through it the first time, I am finding that sometimes there are broken links to videos and online materials that were there this summer when we developed the class but now are gone,” Ott said. 

With this program comes some challenges for students as well. Senior Antonio Rinn is currently enrolled in College Writing and believes that this class is extremely helpful, but also challenging for him. 

“The challenges I face a lot of time are actually sitting down and doing all the work I should do at the time I have,” Rinn said.

While these teachers and students may be running into a few small problems, Ripa and Ott have a lot of praise for this program because of what it is doing for these students. 

“I have the chance to meet with more students one-on-one to address specific questions they have about their topic or their work. We have also been able to meet as small groups when necessary,” Ripa said. 

Ripa and the other teachers believe that this course has helped students who would not feel comfortable asking questions to get the help they need during that online time. 

Senior Angelica Santiago appreciates this program because of the preparation for college that she feels that she is receiving. 

“I prefer a blended learning class because it seems easier and it feels as though I am in a college class. It’s preparing me to stay organized and keep time management for when I get to college next year,” Santiago said. 

This program has received a lot of feedback in its first year, which the administration intends to use in order to improve blended learning. Administration is planning on continuing this program for many years and is in complete support of providing blended learning for future seniors.

“We had a great team working together across the district to make the blended learning concept a reality in a short period of time,” Bearinger said. 

Blended learning is changing the way students learn and is giving a fun new approach to teaching and learning for many students and teachers.

“It is more fun because it is a smaller class, so you make friends easily and are able to ask questions and talk through things easily,” Santiago said. “Blended learning is just a really good way for me to prepare for my future, while in a traditional classroom.”