Blended Learning Strategies: Start Unit One

Unit One: What is Blended Learning?
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Blended Learning History


In the recent years, blended learning has grown for many different reasons. In k-12 education, the need to cover large amounts of content in a short period of time, allows blended learning to help maximize this need. Also, in higher education, blended learning is used for students to gain information needed before entering the weekly classroom meetings. The start of blended learning was conceived by teachers who were looking to expand past the walls of the classroom to connect students with the world. Giving students many opportunities to learn in ways that would not normally be achieved in a "brick and mortar" traditional classroom environment.

Blended learning allows students and instructors to connect with the world, using the internet and blended learning strategies to make the learning experience more engaging. Using blended learning as a form of course design, students are exposed to innovative tools, digital content, and technology that enhances the content being presented.

Early blended learning models were innovative in education as they flipped the idea of the instructor leading the course and providing the content, to what is known as learner-centered, placing the student in the center of the learning. Using technology as a guide, blended learning becomes more engaging as students can participate in online discussions and share knowledge and also becomes more efficient as content can be given to the student ahead of time.

The idea of blended learning has taken off in other countries around the world and continues to become more successful in American education. More and more studies are conducted on the effectiveness of blended learning compared to regular face-to-face lessons and more schools are opting for this approach. Blended learning has the emerged as a optimal way to personalize learning for each student.

Definition of Blended Learning

In this video from Education Elements(a consulting firm that develops blended learning services), the first 2 minutes gives a brief overview of the concept of blended learning.

Watch: Blended Learning Explained

Blended learning combines elements both face-to-face delivery with online technology and resources. It can also be referred to as hybrid learning as the most effective aspects of in-class models are mixed with online learning to help optimize and personalize learning. This environment is beneficial to both the students and the instructor because it allows differentiated instruction across a group of students and allows the instructor to monitor and provide constructive and timely feedback to users.

In higher education, the term blended learning or hybrid learning takes on different meaning depending on the amount of time spent in the classroom and in turn spent online

According to the Online Learning Consortium(formerly the Sloan Consortium, the percentages of time split between in-class and online determines what type of course or lesson is being used. The chart below gives the definition of each:

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Benefits of Blended Learning

Blended learning is a useful and beneficial tool and model for instruction. These benefits include:

  • Efficiency: Combining both in-class instruction with online elements gives instructors the chances to provide students with material and instruction outside the classroom, leading to more one-on-one time within the classroom, face to face. If a student is struggling with the material, the instructor can take the time to individualize the learning and provide attention where they need. One set of instruction or a way of teaching is not needed, allowing for a more streamline approach.
  • Better Student Data: Using technology and online programs, instructors can better monitor students. Different types of software used with blended learning can better measure student progress and identify parts that need attention.
  • Personalized Learning: In the traditional classroom setting, the teacher provides the same instruction to all students at once. Using blended learning, new concepts can be introduced at each students level of understanding. Students can work on their own pace, fully understanding and comprehending material before moving on.
  • Engaging: Blended learning allows instructors to be creative in how content is delivered to students. Going beyond reading and writing, the use of technology provides the opportunity to present material in different forms. For example, videos, virtual tours, audio, virtual labs and websites brings to life concepts and may be easier to understand for students who may learn in different ways.

Activity: Check Your Understanding

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Complete the Check Your Understanding on "What is Blended Learning?":

Unit One Quiz

Things to Think About

  • Does your school show aspects of blended learning?
  • Is there an activity or lesson that you currently teach that could be flipped?
  • Start thinking about what technology is already available in your school, do students have their own access to internet at home?

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Next Unit: Blended Learning Strategies: Unit Two
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References and Sources