Is Blend a help or a hassle?

We asked students what they thought of Blend. Our conclusion: learning at Mac is easier because of it

Freshman+Marley+Angle+navigates+Blend+for+her+photojournalism+class.+%E2%80%9CI+don%E2%80%99t+enjoy+using+it+for+most+of+my+classes%2C%E2%80%9D+Angle+said.+%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s+mostly+because+I+just+don%E2%80%99t+like+the+online+aspect+of+school+in+general.%E2%80%9D+Seeing+as+Blend+is+required+for+many+classes%2C+this+is+a+very+valid+complaint.+Photo+by+Ethan+Holmes.
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Is Blend a help or a hassle?

Freshman Marley Angle navigates Blend for her photojournalism class. “I don’t enjoy using it for most of my classes,” Angle said. “It’s mostly because I just don’t like the online aspect of school in general.” Seeing as Blend is required for many classes, this is a very valid complaint. Photo by Ethan Holmes.

Freshman Marley Angle navigates Blend for her photojournalism class. “I don’t enjoy using it for most of my classes,” Angle said. “It’s mostly because I just don’t like the online aspect of school in general.” Seeing as Blend is required for many classes, this is a very valid complaint. Photo by Ethan Holmes.

Ethan Holmes

Freshman Marley Angle navigates Blend for her photojournalism class. “I don’t enjoy using it for most of my classes,” Angle said. “It’s mostly because I just don’t like the online aspect of school in general.” Seeing as Blend is required for many classes, this is a very valid complaint. Photo by Ethan Holmes.

Ethan Holmes

Ethan Holmes

Freshman Marley Angle navigates Blend for her photojournalism class. “I don’t enjoy using it for most of my classes,” Angle said. “It’s mostly because I just don’t like the online aspect of school in general.” Seeing as Blend is required for many classes, this is a very valid complaint. Photo by Ethan Holmes.

Ethan Holmes, guest columnist

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Walking back to your computer, expecting to see your essay neatly typed greeting you, you are instead met with the pure defeat of a blank slate. It’s a slap that has probably stung you at least once before, thanks to Blend.

I interviewed several students about their usage, opinions and gripes about Blend. The results were mixed.”

Whether it be finishing homework, submitting an assignment, voting for this year’s homecoming queen and king or, most recently, demonstrating that we paid attention to the schoolwide lesson vaping, we’ve all used Blend and have gotten accustomed to all its faults and advantages. Austin Independent School District began using Blend during 2017. Previously, AISD had been using Google Classroom for all its online needs.

At first, there was definitely some confusion as to what exactly Blend would do and how it would improve education. When the plans to switch to Blend were announced, AISD promised parents, and students that Blend would improve the teachers’ ability to understand students, enable the growth of the student by improving on their strengths and weaknesses, and provide opportunities for students to learn about digital citizenship.

Now that a year and a half has run its course, many students have had the chance to form their opinions on this online tool. Is Blend helpful or a hassle?

“I am not a huge fan of Blend. It seems to be complex and often times hard to navigate from a student’s perspective as it isn’t very user friendly.”

— Carter Rothenflue

In order to find out, I interviewed several students about their usage, opinions and gripes about Blend. The results were mixed: some students thought it was an OK resource that improved the online component of school. One student who espoused this view was Trew Hoffman.

“It’s better than Google Classroom,” Trew Hoffman said. “I don’t mind it.”

Others, however, felt alienated by what they thought was a clunky, and non-intuitive interface.

“I am not a huge fan of Blend,” Carter Rothenflue said. “It seems to be complex and often times hard to navigate from a student’s perspective as it isn’t very user friendly.”

More students that I talked to agreed that the online tool helped them greatly in and out of school.

One student said, “It’s made homework a whole lot easier.” Another said, “I would definitely say that Blend has had a positive effect on my education.”

Seeing as students had a very strong opinion on Blend, I decided to see if they had any suggestions to improve the online tool.

The most common response? The user interface is too complicated.

It’s made homework a whole lot easier.”

— a commonly expressed student opinion

“I would make it more user friendly,” Reid Grotevant said, “by removing some of the options like modules, which seem redundant along with assignments.”

Rothenflue agreed saying, “fewer tabs, (modules, pages, etc.) and only have the links that we need.”

Overall, the opinions of students mean a lot when it comes to introducing new online programs. If the students don’t enjoy using it, it won’t work as intended. When it comes to Blend, there are a few issues, those mainly being the over-complication of navigating.

But at the same time, it makes doing assignments and projects online a breeze. After searching for an answer to the central question, does it improve the lives of students and teachers alike?

In the case of Blend, it seems like the answer is definitely yes.

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