You’re walking into your 4th period class, only one more for the day, finally. You settle into class hoping the teacher will show a movie or do a quick lecture on a lesson, but instead she says you guys are going to do a Blendspace. What?! You have to teach yourself a lesson? You have to look at this screen and do work ALL period? This is the last thing you need to top off your day.
Recently, this has been the situation for many of us in our classes. Along with the iPads issued to every Presentation student this school year comes the use of many new applications, websites and programs that are supposed to help us learn more effectively. Sadly, Blendspace really isn’t one of them.
Blendspace is a website that allows teachers to create lesson plans for their students using all types of programs such as YouTube videos, note sheets, and Powerpoints. They can even create small quizzes for the students to take to ensure they are understanding the material. Even though it has many cool features, Blendspace is not the program teachers should be using to teach students lessons and frankly, students just hate it.
Science teacher Diane Rosenthal gives some insight in to why she uses Blendspace, saying, “I use it because everyone learns different ways and it is also good for students to have to learn how to read information and determine what is important.” She also says she likes how students can learn the new material at their own pace.
Although Blendspace caters to different learning styles, such as visual, auditory and even kinesthetic, the program cannot replace the teacher. Since Blendspace can be used to replace a lecture or demonstration, the students are expected to work independently and quietly and often cannot get clarification from the teacher. Therefore, they do not learn the material as well. Often times they are just left with a massive sheet of notes taken, not knowing which points were the most important and focusing on small details instead of the larger concepts.
“I would prefer a lecture because you can ask the teacher direct questions if you are confused on a specific subject or problem involved in a lesson,” junior Emily Carollo explained.
A lecture from a teacher is much more interactive and engaging in the classroom setting. If Blendspace is used in replacement, students are more likely to become distracted and less engaged in their learning, which results in students retaining less of the information. Also, students are stuck staring at their screens all class period. Not only can this get incredibly boring, but only working with one program the whole time could make a student go crazy in the long 85-minute periods.
Another issue students are frustrated with is that teachers tend not to realize how long a Blendspace activity may take. Reading four articles, taking notes on a powerpoint, watching 3 YouTube videos and then being quizzed on the material isn’t exactly the quickest assignment to finish. Since all students learn the material at different speeds, this overwhelming amount of work could become a conflict for many, forcing them to rush through the material and not focus as well.
The final problem is that the format of Blend Space on the iPads is often hard to maneuver. Blend Space was originally made to be used on a laptop, but not every student brings a laptop to school, forcing most to use their iPads. On the iPads you are unable to save the note sheets and powerpoints that the teacher posts for you, but on the computer you can. Also, when using Blendspace on the iPad, the links to an article or a YouTube video can be challenging to find, while on the computer, the article or video will just pop up.
Overall, Blend Space can be a cool new way for students to explore their different learning styles and a good way for teachers to occasionally present material, but it should not be used in replacement of an entire lecture or leaving students to individually teach themselves new material. Rather, teachers should use it as a short aid to a lesson they have already taught or use it engagingly during their own lectures to give students the most benefits of the program.