My Blended Christmas Tree

For 16 years, our family has enjoyed the traditional white lights of our Christmas tree.  What can I say?  We like Christmas traditions.  However, this year, we wanted to explore something new and decided to try colored lights instead.  Yes, 16 years of tradition were about to go out the window.
My husband and I thought we selected the perfect colored LED lights for our tree.  Not only will they save energy, the lights should have a very long life.  We can use them over and over each year without worrying about cracking, unlike our traditional lights which damage easily.  LED lights come in a variety of styles, so we chose a style that we felt was just right for us.
Tree with white and colored lightsEverything was going great until we put the lights on the tree and turned them on.  I expected to see a warm, inviting tree, reminiscent of Christmas past.  Instead it was a dark (albeit colorful), boring, gloomy, wretched tree.  The familiar warmth of our Christmas was lost.  The tree with LED lights was a travesty.
For a week, we watched as the colored lights struggled in vain to illuminate our tree, and our hearts continued to sink.  Our tree was dark and depressing.  We had to do something.  So we carefully added the familiar white lights, leaving the LED lights.  I couldn’t wait to rescue our Christmas.  Once the tree was trimmed for the second time, we turned on the elegantly simple, white lights.  Ahhh…  a tragedy was averted!  We had warmth, familiarity, tradition–all things Christmas.  Then, just to check everything out, we turned on both the LED and the white lights, and… voila!  I was amazed!  Our Christmas tree came to life!  It exceeded my expectations.  It was the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary.  The familiar glow of the white lights warmed my heart.  The color from the LED lights added a unique quality that wasn’t part of our Christmas past.  It was the best of both worlds.

Our Christmas tree lights remind me of blended learning.  In addition to the benefits of traditional face-to-face learning, quality blended learning offers online activities designed specifically to meet the needs of the student and to enhance learning.  Students have the best of both worlds!  They enjoy the warmth and familiarity of the traditional (like the warmth we feel from our traditional white lights) while gaining knowledge and experience in the contemporary world (like our experience with the colored LED lights that ultimately enhanced our tree). Perhaps it’s time to consider something new.  Let’s blend the traditional with a bit of the contemporary and see what happens. It might surprise you.

W&M eLearning Community – First Meeting!

Elephant Painting

Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) Image from archer10 photostream:

The W&M eLearning Community held its first meeting today!

Guest speaker, Professor Michael Kelley, Applied Science, who has taught in a blended format for more than 10 years, shared his experiences.  Gene Roche, Director of Academic Information Services followed with his thoughts on the importance of matching the activity types and available technologies to the learning needs of the student; reminding us that eLearning is not just about the technology but, more importantly, about student learning.  This is key to the success of eLearning initiative at the College of William and Mary.

Are you curious about the elephant? Members of the W&M community may use their WMUserid and password to access the recording of Gene Roche’s presentation or the meeting.  Check the Events Calendar for upcoming meetings of the W&M eLearning Community.