Much of this evolution is related to the influx of several technological innovations. The Internet has become an essential teaching tool and birthed a whole new trend of online learning.
Some of the major technology companies have enabled dynamic digital creations like e-learning software alongside conventional in-person training to develop a new trend called blended learning.
Throughout this post, we will delve deep into understanding blended learning and give you a guide to all the details you need to know about it.
<h2> What is blended learning? <h2>
Blended learning is an educational approach that combines traditional in-person learning with digital learning elements like images, videos, and digital assignments. This learning system brings together the best of two training methods-in-person training and the modern e-learning platform.
By combining the two learning environments, you bring together different types of learners. Those who learn better in an organized environment like a classroom and those that perform better in an autonomous, online-based setting.
Your business or company likely feature both conventional learners and millennials who are used to computer-aided learning—combining these through blended learning benefits both parties.
While in-person learning offers an opportunity for practical demonstrations and instant feedback from the tutor, digital learning provides a self-paced, personalized training aided by online components.
These components use digital media tools like games, skill-building, quizzes, tutorials, and social media tools, all of which can be accessed on the homepage of the learning management system (LMS).
<h2>Blended learning models <h2>
Tailoring the learning experience to fit every learner in a diverse teaching environment is often almost impossible. However, with blended learning, you can personalize your lessons for teaching techniques, time, and learners' preferences.
But administering a blended learning model needs a couple of changes to how you think about the whole training program. Check out the various blended learning models below and choose the one you find might work for you.
· Rotation. This is a model which involves learners moving from one training activity to another. This can be done either online in a self-paced manner or an organized space directed by a teacher.
Examples of the rotation blended learning model include labs, training workshops and flipped classrooms where students can practice the course before attending the in-person training.
· Gamification. This education method involves integrating gaming elements in a learning environment to improve concentration and students' intelligence. By using features like pointers and levels, students become motivated and feel a little competition, hence compelling them to perform in order to outsmart others and receive the awards.
· Face-to-face. This is a conventional instructor-led study session combined with technology to let learners control their learning speed. The benefits of this model include role-play, hands-on practice, mentoring, and feedback.
· Online lab. This model is entirely digital, having little or no tutor-led interactions. It can take place either during, before, or after the learning session. Students can get the contents on their respective devices like mobile phones, tablets, or laptops. When applied effectively, this model solidifies learning and engages learners flawlessly.
· Flex. This model of learning can be used synonymously with personalized learning. After integrating their learning in an LMS platform, students can control their learning direction, solely deciding what to learn at their own time and speed. In this modality, a teacher is only available in supervising capacity to answer questions.
· Online driver. This modality of blended learning is totally self-directed and occurs in an online space. Students and trainers can interact with a tutor through emails, chats, or message boards. The model offers more flexible and personalized learning. It does not apply face-to-face engagements like other blended learning models.
With LMS software, a student can be encouraged to control their learning while they also enjoy media and engage in the general course discussions. You can choose to have a personalized LMS developed according to your needs or opt for an existing LMS.
· Self-blend. This is any type of supplementary learning material; they may be in the form of video tutorials, blogs, white papers, or webinars to encourage self-motivated students to dig deeper into a particular area of study. A robust learning management system can combine various content sources in one system to promote growth and encourage curiosity.
<h2>Why choose blended learning? <h2>
Until a few years back, teachers from different levels of learning institutions have naturally adopted blended learning as a practical learning tool for in-person and online studies. And, fortunately, corporate learning is also following the suit.
This model has found a way into the heart of education experts due to the following benefits associated with it.
Let’s have a look.
1. <h3>Fun and engagement.<h3>
Blended learning offers an interactive learning experience on a scale that no other methods can compare. Students build up the offline lessons by revising online using various digital media contents to support certain learning styles.
Learners have the option to choose the kind of content they want to interact with, demonstrate practically what they learn, and can engage instructors and fellow learners at any time, on any device.
With this community experience, learners are more engaged, and the teachers are able to get updates on their progress and the areas that need adjustments.
2. <h3>Accounting for everyone.<h3>
Blended training puts every learner into consideration, whether they want to learn online, prefer the traditional classroom setup, or would instead try a mixture of both.
Blended training does not limit to the classroom or an all-online course but explores all the methodologies allowing the contents to be customized according to learners' preference and also optimized for the lessons to be taught.
Though the in-person learning contents cannot be fully translated to digital form, it is possible to tweak the existing content for online access to support the current system.
3. <h3>Lower costs.<h3>
Classroom learning might look like a cheaper option than putting up a digital learning system, but if you factor in certain aspects, you realize that the actual cost of in-classroom studying is expensive.
If you consider factors like flying in remote employees for training, time spent away from work, and the costs of paying trainers, you will find that blended learning is more cost-effective in the long run.
A blended learning method can be customized according to prevailing learning environments and learners’ preferences, hence cutting travel costs. It also reduces learners' and instructors' time preparing learning and teaching materials because they can be reused.
4. <h3>Learning trends and feedback.<h3>
This mixed-method of learning brings together offline and online technologies, which allow instructors to adapt to the new trends and modalities in the education industry flawlessly.
Trainers can also take advantage of the built-in reporting features available in most LMS programs for in-depth data-driven details in the students' progress.
Comparatively, the mixed learning approach offers a special opportunity for learners to mold, discuss, and practice their acquired skills in a conducive space. They demonstrate practically instead of just watching or hearing.
Applying the knowledge immediately after leaving the physical or online classes helps learners absorb and retain the skills.
5. <h3>Reach and personalization.<h3>
International companies and businesses encounter challenges in their bid to make learning universal, regardless of their geographical positions. Travel and language barriers are also among the significant challenges global organizations face in quest having a universal learning program.
Despite the hurdles, blended learning has enabled employees to receive training conveniently whether they work in a different country or work at home.
Diverse reach also builds a network of various individuals. Since learners have different learning potentials, you cannot restrict them into the same learning model and expect the same results.
Mixed training creates a range of learning options that allow learners to choose and lead how and when they attend the training. Testing out of a familiar topic or listening to the same audio tutorials often means that employees retain the training they have.
<h2>Blended learning strategies to look out for.<h2>
Due to the benefits of blended training, a good number of companies and learning institutions have rushed into implementing it in their systems. However, implementing a new strategy can be overwhelming, especially when you are new to the trend and don’t know how to begin.
Below are some workable strategies you can check out if you plan to implement blended learning in your system, but you don't know how to start.
1. <h3>Use multiple instructional materials.<h3>
To deliver effective mixed training to learners through mixed learning, you must use multiple different learning materials. By using numerous resources, blended training will come flawlessly and effortlessly.
Together with your textbook or the standard teaching template, supplement your training with free learning resources from online discussions, the Internet, your test preparation materials, and your DIY teaching materials.
Generally, a typical blended lesson should follow this pattern:
ü Class begins with a bell ringer task found on the Internet.
ü Instruct learners to read the day’s unit from the textbook.
ü Instructor-led discussion follows.
ü Learners gather into groups to brainstorm on the activity creates from the lesson.
ü Class ends with the instructor assigning homework from an e-book or textbook.
Days will vary according to the concept to be covered. Some theories can be taught best with a textbook, while others can be handled well through a digital curriculum.
2. <h3>Include technology for reinforcement.<h3>
Since career and technical education courses feature both regular lessons and lab work in their training systems, you have the chance to experiment extra things with technology.
For instance, as a health trainer, some concepts can be taught better through videos, such as how drugs operate in the human body. You can also instruct the trainees to discuss the video on social media or any other digital teaching platform.
Try using some of the available mobile learning apps if it fits into your courses. Only incorporate technology if it has a relevant purpose in enhancing learners' understanding and knowledge retention. Don't just add it to check what is trending; it can be a great time robber if used for the wrong reasons.
3. <h3>Try new teaching methods.<h3>
Suppose you are using blended learning for the first time. In that case, you have an excellent opportunity to experiment with new teaching techniques with your trainees. Everybody loves new things, and your learners might surprise you by adapting to the new approach.
For example, you can try the differentiated learning approach, a more specified method of varying the way you give instruction to fit every learner's potential. In this technique, you can have two or more versions of a lesson to teach every learner based on their performance.
Another effective learning technique to try out is flip learning. Basically, this technique means that learners do the regular class works at home, leaving the class open for practical demonstration, instructor-led discussions, and projects.
Though implementing new techniques may take time for learners to adapt to them fully, many teachers and instructors have had success with them.
4. <h3>Maintain the traditional learning approach.<h3>
While you might find success with the new techniques as a blended learning strategy, don't dump the old ones. The conventional methods still are fundamental in a combined classroom.
A face-to-face lecture accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation makes a perfect way of introducing a concept to learners before changing into other blended learning techniques.
Besides, classroom learning has proved to be an irreplaceable teaching technique for the longest time. It is not changing any time soon. Students are compelled to learn more in teacher-led class discussions than any other method.
Even when implementing mixed learning strategies in your lessons, remember that your role as the instructor is still vital for the learners’ knowledge absorption and retention.
5. <h3>Mix up group work styles.<h3>
One of the great mixed learning techniques to explore is mixing up how group work is done inside and outside the classroom. If you have group work for your students, it is all-natural to have it done in class.
However, with blended training, you may want them to connect digitally outside the classroom. This gives them enough time to gather insightful information about the project on their own, allowing them to develop courage in what they are doing.
By mixing both online and class discussions, you provide alternatives to fit each learner’s potentials and different ways of interacting with each other. Besides, they will require digital skills later after they are out in the work environment.
6. <h3>Vary your assessments.<h3>
Though it may not be much of a teaching strategy, this technique is vital to the success of blended learning. If you are planning to combine your teaching style and training materials, it is also natural to mix how you assess student's understanding of every lesson.
Check the ideas below to help get started on varied assessments.
ü Maintain some conventional, paper-based assessments.
ü Give a presentation at the end of a unit.
ü Include essays as end-of-course assignments.
ü Use peer or self-assessed assessments.
Varying the summative and formative assessment methods includes a new technique for your blended training and provides the students with more options of showing their knowledge in a way that fits them best.
7. <h3>Create great challenges.<h3>
The primary learning objective in any kind of environment is that the learning must be value additional. Millennial students are very pragmatic and perceptive. They will always want to know why they are learning something.
When using a mixed learning method, ensure that every project or assignment given to students is inspiring. The aim is to make them creative to enable them to provide solutions to real-world problems.
By the time the student gets to the world after school, they should be ready to face real-world challenges armed with practical critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
8. <h3>Allow students to be class instructors once in a while.<h3>
This is a bold move that requires confidence in your students, but it can benefit teachers and learners alike. Allowing the trainees to be the instructors occasionally can be a better method to enhance engagement. You get to mirror yourself in your students.
The benefits of letting students walk in your shoes include the following:
ü They will learn about cohesive planning and organization.
ü They will understand what it takes to teach in an engaging way from a different perspective.
ü It allows them to outline assignments and projects from an instructional point of view.
ü It offers them a chance to demonstrate and reinforce whatever they have learned. If they can teach fellow students effectively, you will know they have absorbed the skills.
The millennial students are a helpless lot who are always on the go. Putting them in one place for a long time quickly makes them bored.
Since this lot prefers entertainment, simulation, or a mixture of both, it is an excellent opportunity to mix the physical classroom into a digital playground-rotational learning approach. Here are examples in phases of how you can implement rotational learning.
ü Watch a short video about the challenges facing society. Allow students timed to discuss the problem and share their views.
ü Present the challenge to students and separate them into different groups to do research using digital and non-digital methods.
ü Computer games get distributed through the classroom at various intervals. Guide each group through a chain of challenges.
ü Set up a workstation where learners can work on coming up with solutions. Set standards and rewarding systems for certain milestones met. Include some friendly competition in the system to enhance interaction.
ü Lastly, the presentation and display of project day- the interview, which is an essential part of the rotational learning. At this phase, the students brainstorm about the project, how effective the solutions are, and the needed adjustments.
Simulations and movements are ideal methods of keeping learners engaged and ensure the success of mixed success. Change the techniques and explore different ways to learn in class or outside class.
Blended learning is the combination of traditional face-to-face learning and online studies in a manner that supplements the other. It allows learners to experience the best of the two learning methods.
Due to the influx of technology, mixed learning has seen a tremendous rise in its application in the learning environment over the past century. It has been used by some organizations as their primary teaching approach, while others may only use it on special occasions when aiming to achieve a particular objective.
To successfully implement blended learning and enjoy its vast benefits, some strategies need to be put in place. User varied instructional materials, including technology to support your teaching methods, and design great challenges and try new teaching methods.
However, as much as it is essential to try new teaching techniques, do not dump the old methods and instead incorporate them to deliver blended learning successfully.
This is done in consideration that learners have different learning potentials, and some are comfortable with the traditional method, while others find online learning workable for them