What is blended learning?
Posted by Greten on 14 Jan 2019 under Terms
Blended learning is an instructional approach in which significant parts of the learning process has face-to-face instruction and online instruction.
Blended learning aims to use the best of both face-to-face and online instruction to deliver effective and student-centered learning. In blended learning, one of the major duties of the teacher, facilitator, or instructional designer is to find the right blend for a particular group of students, a specific topic, and a given set of resources.
Components of blended learning
Blended learning has two components, face-to-face instruction, and online instructions
The face-to-face instruction refers to the learning process in which the teacher and the learner are physically present in the same location. It includes one-on-one sessions and the traditional classroom setting. Online instruction refers to the use of the internet, in which the facilitator will upload learning materials to an online server—usually in the form of learning management system (LMS)—and the learners can access those materials from their home, work, or some other location.
Blended learning involves both of these instructions in the actual learning process. It could be that some topics of the course are covered using online instruction and some are covered through face-to-face learning. It could be that the bulk of learning happens in the classroom while the reinforcement happens online, or vice versa. However, merely using the internet to do research or to submit an assignment does not count because they don't rely on a system that was designed as part of the learning process.
Factors that determine the right blend
As mentioned earlier, one of the main tasks of the instructional designer of blended learning is to find the right blend. The right blend is based on the following factors.
The motivation and readiness of the learners are important factors to consider in arranging the blend. Students that are externally motivated by rewards, recognition, or moving to the next grade level will learn more if the blend has more face-to-face instruction. Those who are motivated internally by the desire to learn are better with more online instructions; for example, an employee receiving training for a skill that he or she needs to use in the job right away.
You should also consider the readiness of students to learn, both in terms of topic prerequisite and technology gap. Use diagnostic assessment to determine the students' current knowledge and potential for misunderstanding. If the online instruction involves the use of technology that some of your students do not know how to use, refer them to some online courses about the use of that technology or revise your instruction so your class would not need to use that technology.
Learners can learn certain topics using online instructions entirely while some topics are more suitable with traditional classroom; most topics can vary with different blends between the two instructions.
In designing the blend, consider the learning objectives of the lesson. When you assign certain activities or subtopics as online or face-to-face, assign them in a way that will best achieve the learning objectives including the use, development, or practice of skills such as writing, critical thinking, or kinesthetic.
Time is a limited resource. Could it be that your organization allotted a specific amount of time for a specific topic, or you need to consider that your learners have concerns other than learning your lessons, such as work or other subjects? Take these into consideration in designing the blend of your learning. Online instruction is in most cases, easier for the learners to schedule than face-to-face learning so dedicate more parts of the learning process to it. Ensure that you have sufficient face time for the parts of the instruction that needs it.
Technology is also a limited resource. Develop online instructions that rely on systems that are both available to your organization, and the majority of your students can support. For example do not use LMS that your server cannot handle, and do not use learning modules that rely on touchscreen interaction if most of your students do not have tablet computers or smartphones. If the majority of the students can support the technology but not all of them, ensure that such technology is available to the minority through the library or computer laboratory. Otherwise, you have to modify your learning modules to accommodate them.
Examples of blended learning
Some references call these types of blended learning, but this article will refer them as examples because there are so many different ways you can blend between face-to-face and online instructions and this article cannot possibly list all of the possible combinations. You can even make another way to blend as you read this, or maybe you already did.
In the rotation model, the students rotate between different modes of instructions on a regular or predetermined basis with both online and face-to-face instruction taking place inside the school. The rotation model is useful for courses in which there must be uniformity on the technology that the students use. This model is widely used in elementary education.
There are two kinds of rotation model, station and lab rotations. In station rotation, there are few computers inside the classroom. The teacher group the students and rotate them so that some are using the computers while some attend the lecture at any given time. Some teachers may also divide the steps further such as group lecture, independent or collaborative work, and online instruction. The lab rotation is very similar to station rotation except that the computers are in a separate computer laboratory. More students can take online instruction at the same time, but teachers might find it more difficult to manage.
Remote blended learning
The remote blended learning is a mode of instruction in which most of the learning process takes place during online instruction, with an occasional meeting with the teacher for reinforcement or clarification. Learners can work on online learning at their own pace and time, while the meeting with the teacher is scheduled.
The flipped classroom is best described in comparison to traditional classroom setting. In a traditional classroom setting, the teacher presents a lecture and reinforce the learning by sending homework exercises to students. In flipped classroom model, the students access a multimedia lecture, i.e., watch a video, listen to a podcast, or browse through HTML5 slide presentation while at home, and go to the classroom to reinforce the learning using practice exercises. While working on exercises, the teacher can guide the students, and they can ask for clarification on any part of the media that they did not understand.
Supplemental blended learning
The supplemental blended learning is either a face-to-face instruction for most parts and merely supplemented by online instruction, or mainly an online instruction supplemented by face-to-face instruction. The remote blended learning is a kind of supplemental blended learning.
- HEC Software Inc. (n.d.) "Blended Learning: Rotation Model", Reading Horizons, retrieved 12 January 2019
- Mattia, C. (2016) "Teaching Techniques: Blended Learning", Lynda.com, retrieved 8 December 2017
- TeachThought Staff (n.d.) "Find The Model That Works For You: 12 Types Of Blended Learning", TeachThought, retrieved 12 January 2019
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