Blended Learning and Educational UX

I’m in a blended classroom.  No, it’s not learning + materials, mix at high speed to a frappe.  Blended, or inverted classrooms, are said to combine the best of the digital and face to face classroom features, and it’s coming to a location near you.  Todd Rose, Research Scientist at CAST and Instructor for Educational Neuroscience at Harvard, manages the balance between online and offline activities expertly.

Inverted classrooms were conceived as a way to manage teacher time. What makes them “inverted” is that some of the lecture is online, and the discussion is started there, which frees up the face-2-face time in the classroom to get into the nitty gritty, to do collaborative work or activities, as opposed to doing the “primer” work of lecture. This method leans on the online component to do a lot of the heavy lifting of instruction.

Todd Rose gets it.  He gets that successful courses involve re-exposing students to the material again and again and again, so he uses both the digital and face-2-face mediums to make sure we understand what he wants students to know.

He designs a successful educational experience.

He’s an educational UX’er.  To wit:
  • Visual communication–Rose asks students to watch several “Brain Matters” videos each week.  His videos consistently feature him as a central speaker, flanked by the discussion outline to the left, and a highlighted image of the part of the brain being discussed.
  • Immediate self-assessment–Rose directs students to electronic quizzes on the material immediately after the videos. He uses the power of self-testing as an instruction tool.
  • Storytelling, variation and humor–he integrates all 3 aspects into his lectures to ensure solid memory encoding

Any course design is constructing a kind of experience, but Rose’s all-media fronts learning shows an intentional, pedagogical, user-centered quality that we look for in good UX.  He manufactures interest in way that makes the material “sticky” which is a lesson we can apply to all digital experiences.


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