This year has certainly ushered in some changes in how all of us do things. That includes education. Whether you’re the parent of a younger student or you’re a college student, you may be doing things quite a bit differently.
What many people are following is a blended learning model.
Many school districts use this model to increase social distancing, so students take turns learning in-person and learning at home.
The use of an e-Learning platform like Moodle can help facilitate blended learning.
Blended learning is also something used in corporate training.
So what is blended learning exactly, and how does it work? What are the underlying concepts? Is it effective?
The Basics of Blended Learning
Blended learning, at its core, combines in-person or face-to-face learning with online learning.
Blending learning can also be called hybrid learning or flipping the classroom.
There’s a significant emphasis on technology in blending learning.
The idea is that there’s a certain level of dynamic engagement. There’s the active teaching that occurs, which builds on the use of technology and remote learning. In-person and technology-based learning should complement one another.
Blended or hybrid learning can work well for a variety of learning styles.
The student does have more control than they would in a traditional classroom environment, and they can pace their learning at their own speed in many ways.
Blended Learning Models
There are different specific models of blended learning that all fall into a larger category.
The flipped classroom was discussed above. In a flipped classroom, students have access to already-recorded lectures and assignments that they complete on their own timetable.
Then, instructors use the classroom time to help students in the application of the information they learned. This allows for productive use of the instructor’s time.
With flex blended learning, there is a focus on coursework being self-paced. The teachers only really provide instruction and support when it’s needed under a flex model.
A la carte blended learning lets students choose how they take classes and the model they’re going to follow.
Then, there’s project-based blended learning.
In project-based learning, students are provided with real-world tasks. The instructor provides the specific resources needed to complete the task, based on concepts learned.
What Are the Benefits of Blended Learning?
A blended learning model has some upsides, including:
- The learner gets flexibility and convenience so they can control their learning pace.
- There’s research indicating blended learning can provide a deeper understanding of the content of a course.
- Blended learning offers social support through encouraging interactions with instructors and other learners.
- For companies who use blended learning to train employees, it can reduce the face-to-face training costs.
- Blended learning makes it easy to use innovative teaching or training methods like gamification and webinars to improve learner engagement.
- Teachers or instructors can track the progress of the learner easily, thanks to the use of online learning tools or a learning management system.
- Students or employees have access to online materials at any time and from anywhere. They can refer to them as needed.
- If you’re a parent and your child is doing blended learning, you may have greater access to what your children are learning. You can have some control over the process.
- Some educators feel blended learning helps them perform at their best level. For example, they can teach with individual student needs in mind more easily in a blended format.
- There’s some evidence blended learning can be beneficial because students have access to feedback in a more timely way, which can help facilitate a greater understanding of content.
Are There Downsides of Blended Learning?
It’s only fair to cover the possible downsides of blended learning, and there are some. These include:
- Technology can be great, but with it comes the assumption that everyone is working at the same level of comfort and literacy with said technology. This underscores the importance of digital resources that are easy to use and reliable.
- While some teachers may prefer blended learning, others feel that it puts a lot more work on them. They have to switch between learning methods and work on finding that ideal balance between teaching face-to-face and teaching online.
- Students can get overwhelmed with all the content and activities they have to engage with.
- It’s always possible that using online learning in any capacity can cause issues like cheating or plagiarism to become more rampant.
Since it is flexible and scalable, students, educators, and parents can overcome the issues with blended learning if they prepare for them ahead of time.