The Benefits Of Blended Learning
contributed by April Giarla
The teaching landscape is rapidly changing, the technological rise of the 21st century and widespread integration of those technologies into our society, combined with access to the internet has integrally changed teaching in just a few years.
Our children and their following generations are already and will continue to grow up in a world that’s a stark reminder of how rapidly the human civilization has changed, a society and world where smartphones and tablets are widespread, affordable, and replacing most computers and laptops.
The rapidly changing landscapes should be a marker to show that teaching methods need to evolve to keep up with the times and incorporate integrated technologies into the learning modal, these technologies aren’t going to go away, they’ll continue to be integrated into our society and it’s time to embrace them for the advantages they bring.
What Is Blended Learning?
TeachThought provided a definition of blended learning in the past. Blended Learning is a mixture of learning methods that incorporate multiple teaching modals. Aost frequently eLearning and traditional face-to-face learning.
Blended learning is a natural development to the growing accessibility of eLearning, online resources and the continued need for a human component in the learning experience. A blended learning approach ensures that the learner is engaged and driving his or her individual learning experience. This approach also helps cater to the individual needs of the learner, most students have unique learning styles and a blended approach is more likely to cater to those needs than a traditional classroom teaching experience.
Blended Learning Models:
Due to its modular design, blended learning can come in numerous shapes and sizes and be personalized to fit the individual. These types of modals can include:
- Online – Instruction occurs via an online platform, with periodic face-to-face meetings.
- Rotation: Student rotates between self-paced online learning and face-to-face instruction. Schedules are fixed but flexible.
- Flex: Most instruction is delivered online, with teachers providing as needed support in small-group settings.
- Personalized blend: Teacher designs face-to-face and anywhere, anytime learning options that straddle the physical classroom and virtual spaces. Learning is the constant and time is the variable.
- Online lab: Instructions takes place in a brick and mortar lab. Delivered by an online teacher and supervised onsite by paraprofessionals.
- Self-blend: Students take online courses to supplement their tradition schools face to face course catalogue.
- Face-to-face: Teacher offers primarily face-to-face instruction, supplemented with technology in the classroom or computer lab.
Why Is Blended Learning Important?
Blended learning is important because it breaks down the traditional walls of teaching, ones that don’t work for all students and now with access to present day technologies and resources we can tailor the learning experience for each student. Blended learning also offers flexible time frames that can be personalized to each person, offering them the ability to learn at their own pace.
Advantages Of Blended Learning For Teachers
- Teaching is less expensive to deliver, more affordable and saves time.
- Blended learning offers flexibility in terms of availability – Anytime, anywhere. In other words, eLearning enables the student to access the materials from anywhere at any time.
- Access to global resources and materials that meet the students’ level of knowledge and interest.
- Self-pacing for slow or quick learners reduces stress, increases satisfaction and information retention.
- E-learning allows more effective interactions between the learners and their instructors through the use of emails, discussion boards and chat room.
- Students have the ability to track their progress.
- Students can also learn through a variety of activities that apply to many different learning styles.
- E-learning could improve the quality of teaching and learning as it supports the face-to-face teaching approaches.
Blended learning also improves other factors for the teacher including:
- More engaged students
- Better information and feedback on work
- Team teaching
- Extended time with students
- More leadership roles
- Focus on deeper learning
- Motivate hard to reach kids
- New options to teach at home
- More earning power
- Individualized professional development plans
Improved Teaching Conditions
Blended learning tears down the traditional bricks and mortar approach to teaching, which can improve conditions such as:
- Reduced Isolation
- More opportunities for collaboration
- Meaningful professional development
- Better student data
- Improved Time efficiency
Advantages Of Blended Learning For Students
- Increase student interest: when technology is integrated into school lessons, learners are more likely to be interested in, focused on, and excited about the subjects they are studying. Subjects that might be monotonous for some – like math and science, while also increasing information retention.
- Keep students focused for longer: The use of computers to look up information & data is a tremendous lifesaver, combined with access to resources such as the internet to conduct research. This engagement and interaction with the resources keeps students focused for longer periods then they would be with books or paper resources, this engagement also helps develop learning through exploration and research.
- Provides student autonomy: The use of eLearning materials increases a student’s ability to set appropriate learning goals and take charge of his or her own learning, which develops an ability that will be translatable across all subjects.
- Instill a disposition of self-advocacy: Students become self-driven and responsible, tracking their individual achievements, which helps develop the ability to find the resources or get the help they need, self-advocating so they can reach their goals.
- Promote student ownership: Blended learning instills a sense of ‘student ownership over learning’ which can be a powerful force propelling the learning, It’s this feeling of responsibility that helps the feeling of ownership.
- Allow instant diagnostic information and student feedback: The ability to rapidly analyze, review and give feedback to student work, gives the teacher the ability to tailor his teaching methods and feedback for each student while improving time efficiency.
- Enables students to learn at their own pace: Due to the flexibility of blended learning and the ability to access internet resources allows students to learn at their own pace, meaning a teacher can help speed up the learning process or give more advanced resources if necessary.
- Prepares students for the future: Blended learning offers a multitude of real-world skills, that directly translate into life skills, from:
- Research skills
- Helps to develop a ‘self-driving force’
- Better decision making
- Offers a larger sense of responsibility
- Computer literacy
All students no matter their age learn differently and teaching methods should reflect this, by designing teaching programmes in a way that reaches visual, auditory and kinetic learners alike.
With the heavy integration of technologies, we’ll be able to improve teaching, information retention, engagement, responsibility and enjoyment. Students never outgrow their learning styles, meaning blended learning is more important than ever, no matter what the industry is, from schools to corporations, in all walks of life.
StratX is a management development firm that delivers top 500 global companies engaging customized learning solutions. Visit StratX at http://stratxcorporate.com/