Blended learning: What is it and why should you try it?

Claire Johnson

Schools have been operating under the same educational model for hundreds of years. Very little has functionally changed since students sat in rows in one room school houses, chanting lines of latin and writing on slates.

In recent years, however, schools worldwide have been turning toward edtech to break up that traditional educational model.

Abundant online tools are now available to teachers and students, but with growing class sizes and shrinking budgets, finding effective ways to implement technology can be daunting.

The idea of blended learning arose as a flexible and easy way to incorporate technology into any classroom without adding too much to the already packed curriculum.

If you’d like to learn more about using blended learning in your classroom, read on!

What is blended learning?

You’ve probably heard the term “blended learning” or “hybrid learning” before. Technically speaking, blended learning combines online learning with traditional instruction to guide students along a set learning path.

In other words, it means using an online tool that gives your students some extra control over their learning in your classes. The goal is to create a more engaging, effective, and customizable experience for each student.

To be considered hybrid learning or blended learning, a curriculum must include three things:

  • Traditional instruction components in a classroom setting with a teacher

  • Online learning components where the student has some control over pace, location, content, or timing

  • No content/lesson repetition between online and traditional sessions.

The last point is what separates blended learning from other forms of using technology in the classroom technology implementation. In blended learning models, every lesson, whether online or in the classroom, has a new learning objective for the student.

What blended learning isn’t

A common misconception is that any technology use in or out of the classroom qualifies as blended learning, which is not the case.

Having your students write their essay on Google docs instead of on paper, or giving them an online reading instead of a handout, is not blended learning.

Likewise, asking your students to complete a lesson on the photosynthesis at home and then covering that same content in the classroom is not blended learning, because the classroom lesson and the online lesson are accomplishing the same learning objective.

Instead, blended learning uses available online tools such as simulations to develop lessons that cannot be replicated in a traditional classroom setting, ultimately providing a tailored education for each student.

Why should I try blended learning in my classroom?

Every student learns differently, has different strengths and weaknesses, and comes from a different background. Thus, the traditional one-size-fits all model results in some students performing poorly despite equal or even superior capacity to understand the material.

This is frustrating for educators and discouraging for students, but with large classes, packed curriculums, and limited time, there isn’t much teachers can do.

Blended learning allows teachers the freedom to deliver an element of customization to each student without sacrificing time or content. Depending on the model, students have varying degrees of control over where and when they complete online learning sessions, as well as how quickly they move through the material.

Students are free to stay on one topic until they’ve mastered it, and to personalize their education to make it work for their own style. As a result, students can be more engaged, have a clearer understanding of the content, and hopefully perform better in class.

In short, blended learning is an easy and effective way for teachers to break down the standard factory-based approach to education, and teach to every student’s learning style.

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