Perhaps, you have known about digital learning. Then, blended learning isn’t a new model. What do you know about blended learning? Should you implement blended learning?
With our present situation today, as we make the most of the new normal in education, blended learning has increased in popularity. However, you come to ask, should it be implemented in your school?
In today’s post, we will define what blended learning is and dish out its pros and cons so we can target our query: Should you implement blended learning?
What is blended learning?
Blended learning is the combination of the two known learning models; namely, traditional face-to-face instruction and online learning. The blend of the aspects of the two mentioned learning schemes has a greater impact on both student learning and teacher-enhancement strategies.
Blended learning has gained popularity over the years as students are given the best options to thrive in the learning environment and realize their potential. The incorporation of technology into teaching and learning executes the rise of gamifying content, webinars, web conferencing, online teaching, and other internet-based grand designs.
Wikipedia defines blended learning as:
“… an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace.”
Essentially, blended learning requires the proper scheduling of learning opportunities to ensure students master life skills and be the best that they can be. In other words, students have to make the most of both worlds.
Since it is about the magnificence of teacher-led discussions and technology or internet-based instructions, as teachers, we need to retool our teaching skills and enhance our teaching pedagogies to embrace the two components with utmost efficiency.
Should You Implement Blended Learning?
Should blended learning be adopted in your school, consider its benefits and drawbacks before its full implementation. The entire process of blended learning should be within your bounds of understanding for you are stewards of student learning. Hence, it’s imperative to weigh things out.
When implemented in a regular classroom in public schools, blended learning usually involves:
- Implementing a schedule for traditional face-to-face instruction in the classroom where students freely interact with their classmates for collaborative learning and receive direct feedback from their teachers
- Design portions of learning that are to be done at a distance using technology and internet-based instructions where students gain equal access to digital learning materials and learn at their own pace
- Your school must keep track of both online and offline learning sessions using Learning Management System (LMS); therefore, sustains both classroom management strategies for the traditional classroom learning and eLearning opportunities and programs.
Wikipedia defines LMS as:
“…a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs.”
Advantages of Blended Learning
Here are the pros of blended learning that can take both student learning and teacher training to a whole new level. Whether it’s about enhancing student engagement or keeping teachers dedicated and committed to the teaching profession, the following benefits of blended learning intensify the equitable access to quality education at all times!
1. Flexible Learning Environment
With blended learning, students are given meaningful learning opportunities both at home and in the classroom. As students become convenient with the learning environment, they are most likely to thrive and be at their best.
The interactions in both virtual learning environments and in-person learning, enhance instructional delivery and magnifies optimal student learning. Both face-to-face instructions and digital learning elements should form a perfect blend of learning opportunities. Pointing to that, blended learning programs in your school, to be effective, should supplement both options.
2. Enhance Student Engagement
When students exhibit confidence in learning, they are more motivated to study and excel. With the right mixture of in-person learning opportunities and technology-mediated instructions, differentiated instructions come into view where learning is more personalized giving incredible options for student engagement.
Blended learning, when systematically implemented, optimizes student engagement and increases student performance. Furthermore, with a blended learning program, students are provided with helpful choices of finishing outputs and taking access to content at home, or enjoying the physical interactions in the classroom.
With the varied formats of learning materials online, students are more encouraged to work on their assignments and are more inclined with their studies.
In act, a study reveals that the application of the blended learning approach ultimately increases student engagement and learning outcomes in both virtual and classroom learning aspects as “students gain control over time, place and pace of learning.”
“The evidence is found for the positive outcomes of blended learning approach; leads to higher student achievement and improve student engagement,” as mentioned in that particular study.
3. Student Mastery of Content
By providing digital learning opportunities, students can access varied learning materials at home or anywhere that has access to the internet. The easy access to the learning materials motivated students to work on their assignments or finish required learning tasks.
Where class materials are made accessible at any time, students take advantage of consuming reinforcement activities so they can fully master the skills and content. In this way, they can view and review instructional materials; play and replay educational videos.
Plus, with matters concerning complicated topics and difficult content, the portion of in-person learning where the teacher can directly give instruction also is a huge advantage.
Drawbacks of Blended Learning
Where there are pros, there are also consequences. It’s a natural flow of things. Knowing the drawbacks of blended learning can keep you on track of its efficacy and make plans for the better.
1. Requires Internet Access
First of all, with the dynamic setting, the internet or technology is a challenge. To enjoy the potential of blended learning, schools need to patronize a stable and credible Learning Management System for the effective delivery and tracking of educational courses and materials.
Furthermore, students who opt to consume the class materials and to master content at home need strong internet connectivity. Then, here comes the question. What happens to students who belong to underprivileged families who can’t even afford to buy tech gadgets for home use.
Therefore, blended learning is circumstance-dependent and doesn’t supplement universal education applications. Hence, it needs to be sensibly applied.
2. Not All In-person Experiences Can Happen Virtually
Most parents say that their children learn best with the physical presence of a teacher in the classroom. Because most parents believe that teachers are to provide immediate assistance to students, they are more agreeable to face-to-face learning and interactive classroom sessions.
When individual differences come to play, some students really work well with a teacher rather than learning by themselves and processing content, especially in elementary and middle schools. Thus, comes the challenge of online learning.
There are learning opportunities that are best designed in the classroom setting where students maximize collaborative and cooperative learning schemes with the direct assistance of a teacher.
That is to say, not all classroom learning materials and opportunities are online-friendly. Otherwise stated, when blended learning is planned to be implemented, careful analysis and planning have to be made. The types of learners, for example, need to be considered, without skipping their economic status, interests, and levels of motivation.
3. Learning materials and activities need to be accessible in the approved eLearning platforms or LMS
Yes, the whole of it. The students need to understand solutions to mathematical problems and to exercises across learning areas. Hence, everything needs to be published and be available online. Reliable and plagiarism-free learning materials need to be easily accessible online.
Pursuing the application of blended learning in the educational process, excellent preparation is needed. The completion of supplementary materials in the eLearning platforms is another responsibility that teachers need to handle.
Furthermore, making the learning materials accessible in the eLearning platforms requires the technological capacities of teachers. Hence, we need an upgrade of our ICT skills from time to time.
How do teachers benefit from blended learning in teacher training?
Efficient and Cost-effective Teacher Training
As teachers, we need to enhance our teaching skills and enrich our teaching pedagogies for both professional and personal growth. That being said, we attend webinars, teacher training, and continue our post-graduate studies. This is where we can make the most of blended learning aside from the pros we get when we apply it in our teaching strategies.
Through web conferencing, we save time and money. Since we can just access training courses through LMS and webinar tools, face-to-face training which is often costly is minimized. Moreover, our travel time is devoted to something more valuable and the cost for printing training materials can be redirected to other important aspects.
Having known the pros and cons of the blended approach, should you implement blended learning?
The planned mixture of online and offline settings in education positively impacts both student learning and teacher development when implemented effectively. Finding the perfect balance of two tables is needed. Its flexibility is enormous that guarantees meaningful teaching and learning experiences.
Simply put, blended learning when properly applied, can make a huge difference in education. Teachers and students can greatly benefit when in-person learning is mixed up with eLearning components.
Hence, we are given its pros and cons to make a reliable decision. Sound planning is the key. By making sure that all students in your school can benefit from blended learning, then, it’s a great program that needs to be implemented as soon as possible.
However, with our strong commitments as teachers and with the full support of school leaders, everything is possible. When blending really makes sense in education, then we can easily overcome its pitfalls and go beyond the benefits.
If the combination of classroom learning experiences and eLearning methods keeps students excited to learn, then who are we to say no? Am I right?