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Pictures of Blended Learning: This is Progress?

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Okay, instead of writing a diatribe on blended learning, we will let pictures "speak for themselves."  Here then are four images from blended learning classrooms.

Picture 1

Where is the teacher?

OH, it’s the computer!

Well, this classroom has certainly reduced costs — replaced a human teacher at the front of the room with a computer screen. Ah, but each child has an individual computer teacher. Notice how clean the desks are. No messiness in this classroom!

Picture 2

Online Learning for Kindergartners?  Since the title of the article as written asks a question, our answer would be: no!

How about you? Would you really put your 5-year-old in this picture? Really?

Picture 3

At least there are pencils on these desks!  And, at this URL there are also pictures of children moving around in the blended classroom, talking with each other. But the question is this: What percentage of time is spent staring at a screen or moving around and conversing in the classroom?

Picture 4

One answer to the "amount of time" question is provided in the article about the Carpe Diem schools: "In Carpe Diem’s case, students spend more than half of each school day in their cubicles, headphones plugged in, learning from an online curriculum."

Blended learning is all about "telling" stuff.... Instead of a teacher at the front of the room telling stuff, now we have the computer telling stuff. Personalized doesn’t make telling stuff a better pedagogy. Indeed, we know that telling is not the way we learn. Learning is in the doing; learning is in the conversation; learning arises when individuals are engaged in interesting activities — and talking with each other.  

These images are painful.

It’s time for some new images. 

About the Authors

Cathie Norris is a Regents Professor and Chair in the Department of Learning Technologies, School of Information at the University of North Texas. Visit her site at

Elliot Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of CSE, College of Engineering, at the University of Michigan. Visit his site at

Find more from Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris at their Reinventing Curriculum blog at