Blended Learning

Technology is constantly advancing, and it’s changing the education system as well.

Students and teachers alike are integrating technology into their day to day activities to enhance their learning, making lessons more interesting, and arguably easier for students to grasp.

Technology in education reduces classroom interruptions, improves engagement, allows for more individualized learning, and makes it extremely easy to access educational material.

The idea behind blended learning models is to provide more access to resources (information, communication, education) and engage students through online technologies in order for them to better perform on traditional models of educational delivery.
Blended learning leverages technology to enable students to learn from multiple delivery methods, including face-to-face and online.

It is a way of providing instruction that has students spending some time in a traditional setting, and some time in an online setting or where the student may use technology tools for learning.

What is the blended learning approach?

The blended learning approach is an instructional methodology that combines face to face interaction with online learning to create an interactive model of learning.

It is becoming an increasingly popular methodology in higher education due to the promise of greater opportunities for student engagement and success through improvements in student’s time management skills, the ability to implement authentic and dynamic activities, and the ability to retain a larger number of students who may otherwise drop out.

Blended learning allows for more interaction between students and instructors, greater flexibility in scheduling instruction, more effective use of learning technologies, and better overall enjoyment of the educational experience by students of all pedagogical abilities.

Learning is more than just reading a textbook or listening to a teacher speak. Blended Learning can be used to support any traditional course or can be the primary medium for instruction.

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How does blended learning work?

Blended learning involves a combination of in-person instruction at school, and more efficient, personalized digital learning outside of school.

Through the use of online modules and devices such as tablets or laptops, students are able to access their courses, personalize their study plan, and be held accountable through immediate feedback.

With blended learning, students benefit from the structure and support of face-to-face instruction mixed with the flexibility of online tools.

Blended learning combines the best of both worlds—live interaction with instructors in classrooms and distance learning using the Internet and other technologies to create a flexible environment that mirrors real life.

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What are the 6 models of blended learning?

Blended learning is becoming the much-vaunted model of learning that brings together different ways people can learn. Blended learning comprises 6 major models, each with its own components and benefits.

Face-to-Face Driver Model

The face-to-face model includes a mix of methods that combine traditional textbooks and lectures with online and virtual classroom elements to blend elements of online and face-to-face formats.

In this model, the instructor will not only preside over a regularly scheduled class but will also provide a series of online resources to supplement classroom activities in place of or in addition to live lectures.

These resources include video recordings, discussion boards, readings, homework assignments, and other online opportunities designed to complement classroom activities.

Rotation Model

The Rotation Model is an instructional delivery method combining traditional classroom and computer-based learning with the goal of subject mastery.

Students in each course rotate throughout the day between computers and a classroom, or “station”, depending on the subject where they will focus first on teacher-led instruction and then on independent computer-based activities based on instructional objectives at a predetermined time.

The typical cycle for this rotation can be anything between 70 minutes of class instruction followed by 40 minutes of computer work, depending on the course or subject.

Flex Model

Flex Model is a blended learning approach where traditional and interactive teaching are both parts of the instructional program.

Interactive technology is used to create a classroom environment where students can self-regulate their learning, provide more feedback to instructors, and be responsible for their own learning.

This type of blended learning incorporates everything from traditional teaching (lectures), to online resources (videos, quizzes, etc.), to active engagement activities throughout the school.

Online Driver Model

In the online driver model, students complete both instructional content via an online course as well as content-based homework.

The in-person instructor, regardless of being a traditional classroom teacher or an educational technology specialist, provides some form of direct instruction and academic scaffolding that is needed to complete the corresponding content.

With the online driver model, students complete instruction at a time and place convenient for them, often at their own pace. Educators like this approach because it can be more cost-effective while offering convenience to students.

Self-Blend Model

The self-blend model suggests that students learn a subject matter through a combination of their own independent efforts and teacher-directed instructional support.

Teachers are able to better reach students where they are and utilize student’s interest to help them make more progress. The teacher is the facilitator for guiding students to success with their own path of learning.

It is best for learners with high motivation, self-directed, and independent learning who need to learn how to work with information.

Online Lab Model

In the computer lab model of blended learning, students complete all coursework online. However, these students also visit a designated computer lab to have supervised access to a school’s computer resources.

In this model, adults are trained to supervise students’ use of the lab equipment and materials but they do not teach the courses and do not create lesson plans.

The teachers create the course and instructional materials, and students receive all activities, assessments, and feedback through the online management system. Implementing an online lab provides teachers with additional flexibility in scheduling face-to-face time with students who need this option.

What are the benefits of blended learning?

Round-the-clock access to educational resources

With blended learning, students have constant access to their educational resources, 24 hours a day. This gives them a more open and flexible schedule, and the opportunity to learn at any time they choose.

This helps enhance learning by getting students “in the flow” of information and knowledge as they want it, where they want it when they want it.

A personalised learning experience

Blended Learning provides a personalised learning experience that makes the most of your time.

This approach to teaching gives learners choice over where they access content and what media they use to interact with course materials. In this way, administrators can personalise the learning experience.

Better communication and collaborative learning

In a blended learning environment, students are able to communicate and collaborate with each other through the use of the Internet.

This communication allows students to work together on projects and facilitate the sharing of resources and knowledge. The collaboration between students fosters critical thinking skills and enables their creativity to flourish.

Track students’ skill and performance development

Implementing blended learning training can help teachers capture students’ skill and performance development. By tracking your students’ progress, you’ll be able to monitor their study habits and provide them with targeted support and individual guidance as they progress through course assignments and assessments.

Teachers who use blending learning can identify quickly which students require more support, what the best method of delivering content is for each student, and where improvements need to be made in content design.

Cost-effective teaching strategy

Blended learning combines best practices of formal and informal education, resulting in a cost-effective pedagogy that is optimal for most students. Costs can be reduced by moving traditional teaching materials online, as well as having students complete coursework from home.

What are the challenges of blended learning

Expensive to implement

While blended learning has been proven as a cost-effective and fun way to learn, it is expensive to implement.

The consumer-grade technology required for achieving competency in a blended learning environment is all but out of the reach of most families.

Teachers must purchase computers, tablets, and any other digital tools they want to use. Additionally, students need to buy (and possibly maintain in the future) their own equipment.

Inadequate training

While blended learning is now being used by a large number of schools, administrators lack the training to make it work. In addition, most teachers are unfamiliar with this new approach to education.

Providing effective training is essential when implementing a blended learning approach. Teachers must be trained on how to choose online resources, how to plan for student interaction, and how to optimise creativity.

Inability to manage and assess your learner’s progress

When you blend your learning environment, you make it possible to offer more flexible, creative, and engaging learning opportunities for students. But the very flexibility of blended learning also presents challenges in managing and assessing students’ progress.

Teachers have to be proactive rather than reactive, as in traditional schools, where the administration handles discipline issues on a daily basis. Management is key and can be difficult in blended classrooms.

Having a traditional mindset

One challenge of blended learning is teachers with a traditional mindset. A teacher may be reluctant to use the technology involved in blended learning if they feel like it is too hard, will take too much time, or that their class will not benefit at all.

It is important to learn how to get over this challenge of blended learning and focus more on the students who will be benefiting from it.

Choosing the right technology

Blended learning is an attractive option for schools looking to enhance their education as well as increase the use of technology in the classroom.

However, choosing the right technology can be a challenge for many teachers and administrators. When schools and districts adopt blended learning, they need to find the right mix of technologies to support their strategies.

Blended Learning vs Distance Learning

Blended Learning courses combine the benefits of online and classroom-based teaching. They offer the same academic rigour as taught in the classroom, with the added flexibility of learning at a time and place that is most convenient for you.

Distance learning courses, on the other hand, are taught entirely online and have much lower lecturer-to-student ratios allowing for more individual student support.

Distance learning is a learning method in which students do not need to be physically present in a classroom or lecture hall. Distance education can use various media for examples, including but not limited to text, audio and video.

New technology now makes it possible for blended learning to bring more opportunities for active classroom learning, beyond what distance learning alone can offer. It is a trend that has become even more popular with the rise of mobile and online learning.

Are we innovating, or just digitising traditional teaching with technology?

Innovation is the idea of making things better, and obviously, the integration of technology is enhancing the whole education system.

Blended learning is the wave of the future for education. The problem is, so much about it sounds like jargon, and it can be hard to understand all that we’re getting into as advancement in technology is transforming education globally.

There is no longer just a classroom and one teacher preaching to the masses; instead, instruction is now very personalised. It’s not unlike what we’ve done for centuries with learning at the dinner table – teaching children about the world while preparing food for them.

Blended learning has emerged as the new instructional model that leverages technology to support personalisation in the classroom, and will be used more and more in higher education and corporate training.

Additional Information and FAQs

What is the disadvantage of blended learning?
One disadvantage of blended learning can be that students may become too engaged in the on-demand portion of the course and not do as well in the synchronous portions.

Another disadvantage is that educators cannot implement blended learning in every course. It is also less likely to be used in courses involving large numbers or a lot of complex material.

How do you start with blended learning?
The first step to blended learning is to start with a plan, a single learning journey where a learner is introduced to concepts that will help them make great decisions in the future.

For the plan component, you should identify what skills you want your learners to master and flag any considerations or limitations you may have for your particular audience. The instructors can then use these elements as they build their courses and lessons.

Is flipped classroom blended learning?
Blended learning is a pedagogy that aims to improve the efficiency of learning by combining two or more instructional approaches, usually face-to-face instruction and online instruction, to achieve better results than either approach alone.

It can be adaptive, personalised, engaging – but it is not necessarily flipped classroom. A flipped classroom is a teaching methodology designed to advance student understanding through two-way interaction, the interaction between students and the teacher.

Can technology really transform education?
The answer is yes. Education technology—whether it’s an interactive learning application, an e-book or a tablet computer loaded with digitized texts—is a powerful tool.

It can engage students, enhance their learning experience and help them achieve greater success in the classroom.

And at a time when access to education resources for all students (and teachers) is critical, e-learning provides universal access that can be reached from any Internet-connected device in the world.