Blended Learning Approach
In the new era of learning brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, blended learning has arrived and is, for the moment at least, likely to remain. Even as schools navigate the waters of safety and determine which form of learning they will pursue in the present, this year has shown that blended learning is not only feasible, but – with additional planning and a different perspective – it can also be very effective.
Blended learning is an instructive process that blends a virtual program with traditional face-to-face teaching in a classroom. In most cases, blended learning also includes virtual learning, in which some parts of a traditional classroom are physically inaccessible, be it the teacher or instructor, the students, or even the classroom itself.
What you need to know about blended learning? Blended learning is a teaching approach that combines online learning materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It needs the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, and pace.
Blended learning is increasingly being used to describe an online learning approach that combines traditional classroom methods and independent study to create a hybrid teaching methodology. It combines offline learning (classroom, traditional) with online learning in a way that complements each other to provide students with the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Foundation of Blended Learning:
Two main points often associated with blended learning include:
Students who share information and work with others directly in a collaborative and social environment to produce a more enriched learning experience.
Collaboration among students improves when group activities rely on information gathered from resources or online lessons.
Blended learning activities that include formal online course components that are followed by collaborating social learning activities are well known for producing more inspiring learning experiences.
Pros & Cons of Blended Learning:
It may seem counter intuitive, but the reality of co-education is that it offers endless opportunities for personalization and individualization of students. From finding options that can help kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learners alike, to creating controls along the way to ensure information is being absorbed, instructors can create any type of experience they envision for their own students and classrooms. .
This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. For example, for children with limited Wi-Fi availability, the ability to complete lessons can be challenging. However, educators are noticing a mobile accessibility trend that allows some students to travel with their family on road trips. This can expand a child’s horizon while allowing them not to miss classes. Also, some students who wanted to attend other schools further away may now find it easier without the travel or long bus ride.
In a classroom, it can take a long time to repeat lessons or points with a full classroom. In a virtual world, reviewing that last point is as easy as “rewinding” and “playing,” allowing students a chance to really understand the topic at hand.
Because students (and their parents) are constantly “plugged in” to their daily lives, making a shift toward blended learning is a more natural fit than it might have been 15 years ago. With widespread access to smartphones and tablets, and an innate understanding of the use of programs and applications, students have the opportunity to participate in an environment with which they feel comfortable.
Just as there are advantages to blended learning options, there are also disadvantages. In general, however, knowing these issues at their most fundamental level can help ensure that they are fewer downsides, and simply considerations that we need to examine more closely.
While a virtual environment can make everything more accessible for students, no matter where they are, the reality is that there are still challenges, if the infrastructure is not what it should be. Not only must students have access to the Internet and some type of mobile device (which many do not have), but the instructor must have sufficient access points and tools at their disposal.
As a double-edged sword, one of the biggest challenges (aside from the perks) is commitment. While students are familiar with blended learning as a whole, they may also be less engaged due to their constant and consistent use of electronic devices. Also, it is worth considering that if students who learn a specific type of way are not taught personally engaging, the engagement gap widens, not narrowed. It becomes additional accountability of the teacher to ensure that students are not only present but are also paying attention and absorbing the material in front of them.
While it’s easy for students who are constantly online to become overloaded, the threat is even worse for teachers, many of whom juggle hybrid schedules, double the number of classes, repetitive lessons, technology challenges, and more. For instructors who are going through some or all of these challenges, it is necessary to create systems and processes that streamline the work effort without losing the participation of students or parents.
4. Lack of support:
Although distance learning can increase overall accessibility, it is important to remember that not all students learn well virtually. For those who have specialized learning programs or need additional support due to disabilities, or for those who do not have their parents at home to keep them on task, distance learning can be one more obstacle to obtaining a quality education. For this reason, it is important that teachers know how their students learn and can make concessions or “check-in” with those students, to ensure that they stay on the right track.
Approaches for Successful Blended Learning:
Regardless of whether or not you see blended learning as a positive or negative thing, it is a method that, now that it has been widely implemented and has had moderate success, is kind of sticky around, even if only for snow days or snow days those Makeup days. In any case, there are some strategies that instructors can use to increase their chances of success.
1. Clearly communicate expectations:
One of the best things you can do to create an atmosphere of success is to clearly communicate expectations, both with your students and with their parents. Even if it is a bit of extra work, and even if it must be repeated, this will ensure that everyone is aware of the steps you have put in place for a successful learning experience. That way, when the commitment seems to be late or the lessons are not being completed, you have a measure that was agreed to by all parties to get everyone back on track.
2. Create shared lesson plans:
As part of this culture of communication, create lesson plans, calendars, and syllabic that are shared across the class, yes, even with parents, so there is no confusion about what the current focus is, or what needs to be done and When Be aware that many parents who juggle multiple students in multiple classes at all grade levels may have a difficult time keeping up. The more you help them get organized, the more they will help keep the class moving forward.
3. Include structured and unstructured time:
To prevent burnout for your students and yourself! Be sure to schedule downtime between your more structured activities. For example, if you’ve just gotten a long call from Zoom to introduce a new concept, follow up with some free time to absorb them, or a more fun activity to balance screen time. This will not only help your students retain information better, but it will also keep them busy throughout the day.
4. Get the right tools in the right space:
There are a myriad of tools that you can use in a blended learning environment, and much of what you decide to use will depend on your own teaching style, as well as your own physical environment. In addition to creating a clean and organized workspace, here are some tools that can help you make the virtual switch a little easier.
5. LMS or direct connection:
First of all, you will need some kind of Learning Management System (or LMS) to host lessons, videos, tests, surveys and more in a virtual environment, as well as some kind of meeting platform like Zoom O Microsoft Teams.
For virtual teaching, a good webcam is a must, as it will allow students to connect with you on a deeper level. Even better, it can be used for both recorded teaching and live teaching, adding flexibility to your syllabus.
7. Document camera:
While a webcam broadcasts you, a document camera is an added bonus, as it can broadcast documents, experiments, articles, or projects in your classroom. Project your daily schedule, live stream a science experiment, or read a book to your kindergarten class for a virtual up-close view of your more physical lessons.
8. Interactive tools:
Blended learning in its most basic form can be accomplished with little more than a camera and a computer, but for those who want to create a world of virtual opportunities for their students, an interactive panel offers much more. With one, an instructor can teach via broadcast, using the whiteboard and all its capabilities in one room, while students join from their own location.
While coeducation is a very different experience for both instructors and students, it does not have to be an obstacle to the learning process itself. With the right tools and the right perspective, every instructor has the opportunity to create a whole new world of learning for their classes, regardless of where they are currently and where they may be in the future.