The impact of technology in transforming the classrooms of today has been phenomenal. Instructors are now adopting different teaching methods to fit the learning styles, interests, and expectations of the learners.
This is one of the reasons why Blended Learning is becoming the preferred teaching strategy for instructors and learners alike. The rising popularity of the concept is because of the fact that it effectively combines the advantages of traditional instruction mode with online learning methodologies.
In this post, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about blended learning and blended learning classrooms.
1. What is Blended Learning?
An excellent learning approach, blended learning refers to a combination of offline (traditional learning methodologies, face-to-face learning) and online learning strategies (online quizzes, discussion boards, and other resources) in perfect synchronization with each other.
Leveraging technology, educational software, and new learning tools, educators across the world are increasingly blending in-class and online learning strategies giving rise to this interesting model known as Blended Learning.
Also known as mixed or hybrid learning, this learning approach can be put to use in various forms. While some organizations prefer to use blended learning as the primary teaching method within the course curriculum, others use this technique only at specific instances.
The main focus of the blended learning model is to give learners more freedom in the way that they learn and engage in their education.
2. What are the different types of blended learning?
There are 6 main methods of blended learning as discussed below-
a) Online Model
In this model, an instructor delivers lessons via an online platform using various eLearning resources complemented by periodic face-to-face meets.
b) Flex Model
In this model, learners are given customized, fluid schedules on an individual basis for online work, along with other course materials. The flex model involves an on-site instructor for teaching the online content while also providing face-to-face support for individual instruction, small-group instruction, as well as group projects.
c) Rotation Model
In the Rotation Model, students go from one learning activity to another, either in a structured learning session managed by the instructor or online in a self-directed fashion. Examples of this model include labs, learning stations, and the flipped classroom where learners practice the lesson before attending the face-to-face training.
d) Self-blend Model
In this model, learners include various resources such as videos, webinars, blog content, etc. to enhance their own learning. They may refer to resources available online to augment their content.
e) Online Lab
This is another popular blended learning model which is entirely digital, with minimal or no instructor interaction. It usually takes place either before, during, or after training. In this model, learners can access content either on their mobile phones (m-Learning), laptops, or other smart devices for better engagement and solid learning.
f) Face-to-face learning Model
In this model, lessons are delivered using online media by an on-site instructor. It is also sometimes referred to as Instructor Led Training ILT or Classroom Training.
3. What are the benefits of blended learning for learners and organizations?
Benefits for learners
- The approach offers learners flexibility to learn remotely and conveniently at their own pace.
- Because of its collaborative nature, it allows learners to interact with other fellow participants as well as instructors which is great for networking and social learning.
- Blended learning classrooms offer learners a more comprehensive understanding of the curriculum/course content due to its blended nature.
Benefits for organizations
- Extremely cost efficient for organizations due to reduced expenses related to face-to-face training including space, travel, and printing material cost.
- Leads to better learner engagement because of various e-Learning methods used by the organizations such as webinars, online tutorials, and more.
- Blended learning classrooms result in greater ROI for companies due to cost efficiency.
4. What are some of the potential drawbacks to the blended learning model?
Although blended learning classrooms are quite popular in the present educational environment, there are a few pitfalls to the approach as well. Some of these are –
- The model is not a natural fit for courses which require a more traditional or hands-on learning approach. For such courses, it is difficult to translate the curriculum in an online environment.
- The tech resources used in blended learning need to be extremely reliable and easy to use by all stakeholders or else the initiative will fail miserably.
- Another disadvantage of blended learning is a cognitive load for students. If the instructors are new to the blended model, the result might be over delivering the content and educational activities which will impact students negatively.
5. Why is blended learning effective?
There are various reasons that make blended learning effective and popular. Some of these are-
- The approach caters to different learning styles and helps in improving the performance.
- Offers increased flexibility as it enables anytime anywhere learning.
- It is an inclusive model that has visual, written, as well as auditory components to cater to every type of learner.
- It allows the participants to learn at their own pace and their own ability level.
- The model eliminates the need to physically attend classes thus benefiting students who cannot attend classes at set times every day or week.
- Having different learning components keeps learners engaged resulting in better outcomes.
6. How to implement blended learning?
Wondering how can you implement blended learning? Well, there are quite a few standard ways of incorporating blended learning into learning environments. These include-
- Video conferences
- Web-based courseware
- Online references
Additionally, if you have a learning management system (LMS), you enjoy the option of including plugins that can easily facilitate blended learning in your own classroom.
7. What is blended learning in the workplace?
Blended learning at the workplace is a solution-based approach used with the objective of organizational learning program to empower employees and help them improve their job performance so they can collectively drive business objectives.
It is a widely used and valuable technique for learning in the workplace for a number of reasons. Given below are a few ways it can help employees in a corporate setup-
- Enhanced employee engagement as employees have control over their training with the ability to use smart devices or laptops when and where it is convenient for them.
- More effective training feedback because it allows the collection of valuable data through tests, online quizzes, etc.
8. What are the assessment techniques used in blended learning?
One of the pitfalls of blended learning is limitations with regards to end-of-training evaluations. In such a scenario, some useful assessment techniques deployed in blended learning include-
- Mid-Training Evaluations: These can be used to get detailed feedback on course content, teaching methods, and learning activities to help improve teaching and learning.
- Summative Assessment: These assessments can help instructors improve overall course effectiveness and determine whether course objectives are being met.
- Peer Evaluations: Either summative or formative, peer evaluation involves peers providing an added perspective in areas of curriculum, course design, and teaching approaches that students lack the ability to provide.
9. How do employers track their learners’ progress in a blended learning model?
One of the ways to do this is to conduct a survey to get an idea if the requirements and learning preferences of the end learners are met. For example, if the blended learning module was designed and implemented for a particular team, get feedback on the choice of format and if they are comfortable with the same.
10. Are blended learning and online learning the same?
No. While blended learning is a mix of online and face-to-face learning strategies; online learning involves only digital methods to impart learning.