Blended learning is the approach that delivers education combining face to face teaching in the classroom environment with modern technology. But it isn’t anything new – innovative ways of teaching in the classroom existed long before internet and all the devices that today’s educators and learners use. But what is new is the mode of courses’ delivery and the diversity of their media selection. Blended learning is usually delivered in the form of interactive online teaching, combined with traditional classroom teaching.
With the development of learning management systems (LMS) it’s possible to deliver various forms of learning and training, from instructor-led training to self-paced courses. Since educators can implement a wide-range of media content it seems that all content can potentially become learning content.
Equal opportunities for all learning types and motivations
“It’s possible to teach every student in the same way” – said no-one ever! There is a great number of reasons why people approach and think differently of learning, from what motivates them to learn what group of learning types they belong. It is well-known that there are different types of learners – visual, aural, kinesthetic, verbal, mathematical, interpersonal and intrapersonal.
Since blended learning enables educators to develop various learning strategies, (such as games, instructional videos, voice over text) it’s possible to accommodate all of these types.
Also, when creating a learning strategy based on both students’ learning styles and motives, you’re creating a more engaging and personalized content, so even the most difficult subjects can be understood and mastered.
Enhanced monitoring system
When having the opportunity to provide blended learning courses or at least part of them in the form of e-learning you can capture valuable information from it. You can track data on how long did it take for students to complete assigned tasks, or if there were some parts they struggled with and even skipped them. The same goes for gaining feedback from them.
Capturing data gives you insight in overall achieving of courses’ objectives as well as the opportunity to improve learning strategies.
Flexible learning experience
Blended learning is the process that gives learners choice in how they want to unravel the learning experience. Once again, the flexibility of such learning approach has the ability to satisfy learning needs of diverse types of learners. Although it doesn’t necessarily have to be in every blended learning scenario, technology is one of the best tools for increasing individualization and flexibility of such learning processes. It sets the base for effective contemporary education. With technology learning also becomes flexible in terms of space and time.
But there’s more…
One of the greatest advantages of blended learning is that its cost and resource effective. Since learning material can be stored online and re-used, institutions have the opportunity to reduce the number of classrooms and staffing costs.
With implementing technology in education, students have immediate access to information and they’re more involved in the learning process, it’s easier for them to express their interests, they are more motivated and committed. It’s also because technology attracts them strongly. What’s more important blended learning equally encourages both conviviality and independence.
Also, students who are ahead in the course don’t have to wait for others but instead are free to move to other classes. This improves performance, as they don’t get bored or lose focus.
Online learning components make learning experience more flexible, and sometimes flexibility is exactly what’s needed for some students to make progress and reach their degrees. Those are often students that are at a higher risk of dropping out and never completing. So using e-learning environment opens up new ways of building predictive models based on how, what and why students learn.
The challenging part
Since blended learning is partially out-of-classroom learning, one of its biggest challenges is that it requires more self-discipline.
Another one is that many parents are confused about how to react to embracing technology for learning – most of the time they aren’t sure if their children are learning or just browsing the internet for fun. So when implementing blended learning, even parents have to be open-minded and familiar with these innovations.
The key to successful conduction of this approach is in planning ahead before jumping into it completely, and the good thing is that most doubts can be solved during face-to-face classroom sessions.
This trend is still in the early stages of application but as technology develops new components of learning will keep coming up. Also it’s clear that the effectiveness of blended learning is making it, and will continue to make it more and more of a suitable learning selection for both students and educators.
Anne is a freelance business consultant and teaching associate. She is a tech and e-learning enthusiast passionate about innovations and technologies that enrich and inspire learning and the self growth process. When not too busy, she enjoys hiking and photography.
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