Blended learning is an effective technique to create a more “integrated” approach to teaching that benefits both teachers and students. This strategy, combining face-to-face classroom exercises with eLearning technology for better results, is effective for most students at all levels of education. The technique still has various different names.
Blended learning examples may still be called by other names, although these identifiers are now used primarily in research studies. When you see the following terms, all should refer to blended learning, at least in the U.S.
While these titles are often used interchangeably, they are blended learning examples of techniques and strategies that are growing in popularity by students and teachers alike. Courses that feature these strategies are offered at many education levels, including K-12 student settings.
The Innosight Institute developed a working definition of blended learning that helps clarify the procedure for teachers and instructors. In the opinion of Innosight, blended learning is “a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home.”
As the concept grows, more and more courses and classes are offered that use blended learning examples to improve the education experience. Adopting this–or a similar–definition offers teachers freedom to tailor their preferred strategy and plan to their subject and student age range.
Although less prevalent in early grades, blended learning examples abound in the K-12 environment. Because of the lingering use of some different terms and language, examining the models and ways eLearning technology is used can help identify the blended strategy in practice. As blended learning language and terms stabilize, designing and installing teacher-preferred strategies will become easier to clarify and identify.
Face-to-face teacher-led instruction, with students of similar ability in a “unified curriculum” environment, defines a teaching environment. Blended learning augments this with “digital enhancements” such as open access to Internet-connected devices, digital textbooks, and use of online lesson plans. Regardless of the medium, primary content and instruction is still delivered by the teacher in a face-to-face setting.
These four blended learning models are growing in popularity in K-12 education:
A teacher can successfully use any of these learning models, or combine them, at their discretion. The models fall under the definition of blended learning (as set by the Innosight Institute) because they include face-to-face teaching and eLearning technology solutions. Instructors retain the freedom to structure their courses in a way that yields the best results for their students.
Designed for a single class, the rotational model divides a student’s learning into part traditional classroom instruction and part virtual learning—including small group instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, pencil and paper assignments, and online instruction.. The teacher sets a schedule for the course and the students rotate through instruction modules.
This method has a teacher on-site who instructs students from a distance, usually via the Internet. Each student has a customized curriculum and they can get one-on-one assistance either online or by going to the brick-and-mortar school and working with their teacher. This model works well for students who are well-behaved and self-motivated but have difficulties functioning in a traditional classroom setting. Single courses or a complete school curriculum can be presented in this manner.
This is the most common method being used in schools. Students can choose the courses they want to take and the time it takes to complete them. The coursework is completely self-paced. Many schools have switched to this method to increase the amount of courses they can provide, such as advanced placement, additional language offerings or remedial assistance for students who need additional help in an area of study. Because this model is based on individual classes and not an entire curriculum, it is easier to integrate into an existing curriculum.
Students combine a traditional learning environment with a virtual model. Some classes might require classroom instruction or an on-site lab, while other courses might be taught completely in a virtual environment. For schools that are completely virtual, some accommodations are made for at-risk students who might not have the self-discipline or needed support system to complete all their coursework in this manner.
All four of these models have two important factors in common. These factors allow for students to process and learn material in a way that best suits them, and teachers are required to lay the foundation on which students learn. Teachers provide the topic and the critical thinking skills and the students apply these in ways that will help them retain the information. A student who can find a practical application for information is more likely to retain the information than a student who simply memorizes the information as a fact needed to pass an exam.
As we become more technologically advanced and adaptive to changing cultural trends, more school districts will most likely adopt some form of hybrid learning. Studies show that students who are allowed to control the method in which they are taught retain more of the information presented to them. This, in turn, creates students who are better prepared to handle the demands of college and beyond.