Technology has revolutionized almost all aspects of our life. What was once thought to be the realm of science fiction is becoming the new normal. In December 2019, a Silicon Valley start-up managed to deliver 40,000 pounds of butter across America using an autonomous vehicle.
Technology is pushing the boundaries when it comes to learning as well. The use of technology in education has led to the rise of a new approach, known as blended learning. Although the idea has been around since the late 1990s, the increasing penetration of the internet and mobile devices has helped make this educational approach much more achievable and efficient.
Understanding Blended Learning
In simple terms, blended learning is the use of online and digital techniques to aid and enhance traditional teaching methods. It does not aim to replace teachers or brick and mortar schools. Instead, its objective is to complement them. In the case of blended learning, around 30% to 79% of the content is delivered through digital means, while the rest is provided through offline means, such as print textbooks and classroom teaching.
Why Blended Learning is the Future of Education
Blended learning is more beneficial for students than traditional approaches to education. Research shows that students in the United States, who were provided blended learning opportunities performed better than those who used the traditional, face-to-face method.
Besides, the current generation of students feels more comfortable with blended learning. A recent study revealed that students feel they learn more effectively using blended methods, compared to purely face-to-face and even online learning.
Some of the features of blended learning that make it so effective are:
With blended learning, education can be modified to suit the specific needs of every student. Teachers are provided the tools to understand the learning behaviors, interests, strengths, and weaknesses, and more of each student. This helps create personalized learning paths, while teachers can provide personal support as and when needed.
Blended learning allows the inclusion of interactive and gaming elements in learning. It is no secret that almost all students today would rather learn through videos and games, rather than merely text-based books, even if they are eBooks. Moreover, microlearning becomes a reality, since the process of providing information in small, digestible nuggets is eased. This means higher engagement and retention levels.
These features are especially helpful for students with disabilities, such as those with dyslexia, ADHD, or disruptive behavior. Other features, such as text to speech, available via education technology solutions that make education much more accessible.
Students can get instant and detailed feedback with blended learning. This helps not only students but also the teachers. Students can analyze where they need to put in more effort, while teachers can fine-tune their teaching techniques and styles. With ed-tech solutions, assessments can be customized and administered easily, providing valuable data for much more than simply grading students.
With a blended approach, students can access a wide range of resources, including online videos or eBooks, at any time and any place, as long as they have a device and internet. Both internal and external resource links and libraries can be integrated when learning is delivered through digital means. This also allows students to take advantage of what Google calls micro-moments. Students can learn while waiting for the bus while commuting or before going to sleep.
In addition, the use of technology in learning has proven to be the best course of action for Gen Z students. A 2018 study found that Gen Z students respond better to learning through videos, rather than textbooks.
Implementing Blended Learning
As “flipping” classrooms become more common, many educational institutions will have trouble implementing a blended approach. Some of the basic aspects to consider during implementation are:
Choose the Right Learning Model
The first step to implementing blended learning is to choose the learning model best suited for you. There are many blended learning models, each with its own benefits. The different blended learning models include the following.
Face to Face Driver Model
This model is closest to the traditional classroom. Here, only certain students in a classroom are provided blended learning. In this model, technology is generally used to help students who are struggling.
In the rotation model, students move between face to face teaching and online learning. This is generally used in elementary schools.
Here, learning is mainly online and self-guided. However, teachers are present onsite, in case any help is needed.
Online Lab Model
In this model, learning is completely online, but students are required to travel to a physical lab for the classes.
Generally used in high schools, in this model, students are offered chances to learn beyond what is taught in the classroom, with the help of online tools.
Implementing Blended Learning
More and more educational systems are now moving towards implementing blended learning. So, here are the steps to implementing blended learning.
Get the Right Technology Tool
The first step in effective implementation of a blended learning program is to choose the right learning management system (LMS). The digital learning platform should help the educational institution achieve all the core objectives of blended learning. The LMS should allow you to include interactive and gaming elements in the learning. This is essential for making learning more motivating and engaging. The inclusion of gaming elements makes for a more motivating learning experience for 67% of the students.
The learning platform should also enable personalized learning for every student. This means that each student should be able to learn at their own pace, in their preferred style. They can access multiple content formats so that they can choose the format that best helps them understand complex concepts. Without such adaptive learning, slow learners might get left behind, and those who grasp concepts quickly might get bored and disengaged. The learning tool should dynamically cater to the strengths and weaknesses of each student.
As the requirements differ with the domain of learning and the type of students, a ready-to-use LMS may not fulfill all your needs. So, many businesses are opting for customized development of learning management platforms.
Personalized learning is great for teachers as well. Personalized learning paths tell them which students need more help, while also offering the tools to offer the needed support.
Include Effective Assessments
For the successful implementation of blended learning, getting assessments on point is a must. In some cases, the assessments could be online while being offline in others. The form and process of offline assessments have been well understood and defined. As for online assessments, they need to be quick and personalized. To make assessments and quizzes more motivating, leader boards and gaming elements can be integrated.
Make it Last Longer than School Hours
Blended learning isn’t bound by physical walls or time constraints. Learning needs to be available at the time and place that the student desires. Students should be able to access information on any device of their choice and benefit from self-directed learning. The smart providers are thus developing educational apps, to make the user experience extraordinary for their students.
Apart from this, it is also important that teachers are provided the right training to assist students through the blended learning approach. All of this is made achievable through the rapidly advancing field of Ed Tech, which has given hope for the future of education.
Blended learning is the future of education. Technology is helping in its own way and enabling the students access to access learning beyond the barriers of location and time.