Throw in a mix of both the traditional classroom and online learning tools (plus a dash of ingenuity), and what do you get?
A recipe for ‘raised’ educational standards via blended learning!
What is blended learning?
The term ‘blended learning’ is often bandied about in education – but what does it actually mean?
‘Blended learning’ is the umbrella term for any approach to education that combines traditional face-to-face learning with online learning tools, such as Maths-Whizz.
It is this very combination that propels the traditional classroom towards a more effective, more engaging classroom.
What can blended learning achieve?
The goal of blended learning amounts to raised educational standards. If adopted properly, it has the potential to be a real game-changer.
As important as traditional face-to-face learning is, its limitations mean that it fails to meet the needs of the modern education system when adopted in isolation. So what is the role of online learning?
Faced with the challenges of the modern classroom, online learning is vital in helping teachers defeat ever-evolving obstacles and move away from potentially archaic modes of instruction. As our research shows, the four-year gap in ability in the average classroom means that teachers are fighting a never-ending battle to cater to a variety of learning needs. This can be combated with the help of online learning.
With a successful combination of face-to-face and online learning, students can…
Feel supported with access to powerful learning tools anytime and anywhere
Engage with learning objectives that are appropriate for their individual learning needs
Receive ongoing feedback on their progress and respond to this feedback in real-time
Provide their teachers with up-to-date and reliable information on their progress and their needs
Better arm themselves with the tools they need to approach lessons with confidence
Used appropriately and in combination with traditional face-to-face learning, online learning tools can empower educators, engage students, and ultimately, result in raised educational standards all-round.
How to bake a blended learning cake
For the goal of raised educational standards to be achievable, it must be approached in the right way. We all know that the taste of a cake is all about the quality and proportion of ingredients that go into the mix. The very same principles apply to blended learning…
Step 1: Choose your ingredients carefully
Would you bake a cake with old flour, clumpy sugar and stale spices? Thought not.
The same goes for blended learning. If you’re going to do it, you have to choose your ingredients carefully. So what should you look for? As you are the expert on face-to-face learning we’ll leave that part to you.
As for the other key ingredient, a good-quality online learning tool should…
Identify each student’s individual needs and tailor their learning journey according to those needs
Continually assess their progress and adapt according to these results
Provide accurate and real-time reports on student progress
In order to be effective, online learning tools should be reliable, easy to use and up to date. Without the ability to do all of these things, and to do them well, you’re missing a key ingredient.
Step 2: Weigh your ingredients carefully
The key to the success of online learning tools is in their implementation. Now that you know about the blender, why not throw another well-loved kitchen appliance?
Without an appropriate balance between the right types of online and face-to-face learning, we would not only fail to raise education standards; we would be in danger of damaging previous progress and, even worse, failing our students.
As a teacher, it’s your job to choose these ingredients, weigh them up and find the right balance before throwing it all into the blender and whizzing up an educational success! (Excuse yet another Whizzy pun!)
Put simply, the teacher alone is the enabler of every part of the blended learning equation. You’re the scales that weigh up the ingredients; Without the scales, you can’t guarantee a tasty cake!
Step 3: Season according to taste
Although there are some firm guidelines around successful implementation of blended learning, everyone has different tastes.
The majority of blended-learning programs resemble one of four models: Rotation, Flex, A La Carte, and Enriched Virtual.
As with the flipped learning model (a sub-set of the rotation model), it’s up to you to determine how best to adopt it and tap into its potential. So how can you use blended learning effectively in your own classroom?
The key is personalisation. A well-balanced blended learning programme is centred around the individual learning needs of the students. If you are able to adopt blended learning techniques that identify and address these needs, the impact of your teaching will be multiplied tenfold.
Remember, instruction and reporting are only minor ingredients in the overall teaching mix. However good the online learning tool is, only you can ground the data it provides in the reality of your everyday practices. Online learning cannot and should not replace human interaction and face-to-face support, but if used effectively, it can enhance that interaction and ultimately enrich your students’ learning experiences.