What is blended learning?
Teacher Tips

What is blended learning?

Blended learning, hybrid learning or sometimes flipped learning is an education trend gaining momentum. And for good reason. 

As the value of technology in the classroom becomes increasingly clear, alternative methods of dispensing knowledge which fully embrace the possibilities of edtech are getting traction and showing promising results.

So what exactly is blended learning, what benefits are available and how can you bring it to your school?

 

 

What is blended learning?

Blended learning actively unites or ‘blends’ online learning with traditional classroom or face-to-face learning. Both are considered important parts of the learning process and are brought together to not just supplement, but transform and improve the overall learning process. 

The online element of blended learning may include completing exercises independently using devices, watching videos, reading learning material, researching principles, to name but a few. This part of the learning process can be done anywhere – at school or at home. 

Face-to-face learning occurs in a classroom where students have direct access to a teacher. Here discussion about concepts, correcting or further explaining and collaborative work can take place. 

Both aspects of blended learning are also supplemented with independent study time so that students can solidify their knowledge and come up with their own thoughts and questions. 

 

 

What are the benefits of blended learning?

 

Flexibility of access

One of the huge benefits of Blended learning is that it makes the learning process far more flexible and physically accessible. Online learning and independent study can happen almost anywhere, so students who are traveling, can’t come into school because of illness or a personal situation can still take part. This means that students don’t fall behind at crucial times of the year. It can also mean that pupils who need extra time to read the material or absorb concepts can work at their own pace in their own space. They aren’t tied to the momentum of their classmates and lesson time frames.

 

Frees up lesson time for creativity and discussion

With blended learning, many of the basic concepts or topics can be covered independently. This leaves classroom time available for digging deeper into the material and engaging in creative activities and discussion. This makes the learning process far more interesting for everyone and means that students can truly explore and think outside the box around comments, rather than merely retaining information. It can also transform the classroom into a truly collaborative environment – a fantastic life skill but also a great way to engage with different ideas and viewpoints. 

 

 

An opportunity for a more personalized approach

Plenty of individual study and use of online course materials means there are lots of opportunities to provide students with choices. This could be around the specific material they want to focus on, the medium through which they prefer to learn and even the way they go on to express their knowledge. Students can use their devices and the exciting arrange of edtech apps out there to carve their own learning journey. One that suits their needs, interests and learning preferences. This could be a great way to incorporate more Universal Design for Learning elements into lessons or even some principles of personalized learning. Blended learning makes it easier to have a flexible curriculum for each child. 

 

Students love it

‘You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’ – the proverb may date to the 12th century, but no one quite understands it like a teacher trying to engage a classroom that’s simply not interested. 

For students to succeed they need to find something enjoyable in the learning experience. This is where digital devices are particularly effective. Laptops, tablets, or other devices and the apps that compliment them, drive students to actively engage with the subject matter, rather than passively listening… or not listening as the case may be. 

 

Prepares students for online exams and courses at college

Blended learning is a valuable tool for preparing students for online exams. Most states require a statewide exam to graduate, and many of these tests are now done on a device rather than pen and paper. 

This can be a very different way of thinking and articulating your answers. It’s therefore important that students get plenty of practice displaying their knowledge via a screen. With a blended classroom, there are plenty of options for practicing online multi-step question tests. Websites like Khan Academy and Edulastic provide teachers with test creation tools.

 

 

Choosing a blended learning strategy

Blended learning is still a relatively new learning strategy. As a result of this and it’s inherent flexibility there are lots of ways that you can consider implementing it into your classroom or school. 

Some of the most popular options are:

  1. Rotational Model: The rotation model organizes classroom activities to ensure a balanced mix of mediums. To start some students may work in a group with a teacher. At the next stage, they will transition to student-to-student work and collaborative group efforts. Lastly, the students will transition again to independent study on a device. The whole class rotates like this periodically.
  2. Laboratory Model: This model is more traditional. It allots specific times of the day where students will head to a computer lab and spend certain periods completing activities or engaging with digital material. 
  3. Open Classroom Model: An open classroom embraces the flexibility of materials and approaches in blended learning. It offers a much larger classroom of up to 60 students with multiple teachers engaging and delivering knowledge to groups or individuals. Students are also equipped with devices and can use the whole flexible space to complete individual study or spend time with a teacher. 
  4. Flipped Classroom Model: This model is by far the most popular. In a flipped classroom students come to class having already watched videos and done readings on an online program or device. This leaves teaching time free for further explanations, deeper dives into the material and completing homework.

 

Blended learning is part of a broader movement towards technology in the classroom. To learn more about all things EdTech, check out our blog.

Cathy Breed

Content Marketing Executive at Kami

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