Updated: Jan 28, 2022
Many teachers and organizations have adopted or plan to adopt blended learning as one learning approach for students and employees. You may have heard about blended learning, but you’re not sure what it is.
Blended learning combines two or more teaching methods to improve learning efficiency, create meaningful 21st century experiences for your students and save time (and even reduce costs).
Do you want to boost student engagement and boost student performance?
Do you want to learn about the benefits of blended learning and why teachers need to know about it?
Let's explore the top benefits of blended learning for teachers and students, why teachers need to know all about it, and how technology can be used positively.
What is blended learning?
Blended learning combines online and offline resources to help students learn better. Lessons are taught either solely in person, in a classroom, or solely online, through web resources and other resources like podcasts and videos. Blended learning is a popular pedagogical approach that can be used in many types of schools and in many subject areas.
Blended learning is a pedagogical approach to teaching. In this approach, teachers integrate a mix of instructional strategies to promote student achievement. While it can take different forms, blended learning combines face-to-face instruction with online content.
Simply put, it’s a combination of face-to-face and online instruction
It benefits students because it offers a variety of styles and methods for each subject they learn. Blended learning offers many benefits for teachers too — but only if they know how to use it properly.
Blended learning strategies give teachers flexibility in curriculum, delivery of curriculum, and assessment. Teachers can benefit from better lesson planning, more time for collaboration with other teachers, and an improved professional skill set. Students can learn certain things at their own pace and teachers can distribute class time more effectively.
How does blended learning work?
Most often, blended learning is the use of computers, tablets, or laptops in the classroom. Students work through activities that tap into specific skills — like reading comprehension or math calculations. They also use it to access supplemental resources that help them learn course material independently outside of class.
You can expect students who take part in rightly guided blended learning programs to show higher levels of engagement than those who don't. They also tend to be less distracted and more motivated during class time because they've learned how to manage their time effectively between school and home.
Why is blended learning so effective?
Blended learning combines the benefits of face-to-face instruction with those of digital learning environments. It can be as simple as using an online discussion forum to complement a traditional lecture, or as complicated as developing a custom mobile app for students to use as they progress through a course.
Currently, blended learning is an increasingly popular approach among educators, and for good reason -- it's effective. The question then arises: Why? What makes blended learning so effective?
Many educators and researchers believe that the actual power behind blended learning lies in the opportunity to customize and individualize content and instruction. This allows educators to address each student's unique needs and preferences, ultimately leading to increased student engagement and achievement.
There are several key factors that make blended learning so beneficial:
With traditional teaching methods, it can be difficult for teachers to analyze student needs effectively. However, with the wide selection of digital tools available for blended learning, teachers can tailor lessons to meet their students' diverse needs and preferences — all while saving time and money.
Many students are more motivated when they take part in blended learning because it gives them greater control over their schedule. They can advance at their own pace, which helps retain information better than traditional classroom learning does. They also receive immediate feedback from teachers through the use of real-time chat systems or virtual classrooms.
Teachers can communicate more effectively with students when they use blended learning. They can provide more immediate feedback on work completed. Teachers can also better monitor student progress through online activity reports.
Blending the in-class experience with the out-of-class experience allows students to spend less time in class and more in a setting that allows them to focus on mastering an academic subject. This means they will spend less time per lesson and, over the course of a year, will have spent far less time than they would with traditional teaching methods.
The benefits of blended learning are numerous and mutually reinforcing. It can provide a high-quality education to students in low-income communities and/or with special needs who otherwise would not have access to it.
It provides an opportunity for personalization, which is essential for long-term engagement and learning. It can lower costs, both because the technology costs less than traditional instruction and because it allows for smaller out-of-pocket teachers costs.
The technology itself can be used as a tool for teachers to improve their own practice, giving them time to focus on what works and eliminate what doesn't, while increasing student engagement and participation in learning.
How can teachers integrate technology to their classes for an even better learning experience?
Even though technology has made learning so much easier for students, many teachers are still hesitant to use technology in their classrooms. The idea of having to teach how to use the technology can be a little overwhelming.
How can teachers integrate technology into their classes for an even better learning experience?
They have to start by changing the mindset that they have about technology. Instead of viewing it as a hindrance, teachers should view it as an aid that can make teaching more useful and promote more learning.
Blended learning is a way to lighten that load by using technology to improve the educational process.
In traditional classrooms, teachers have been the only source of information for students. That means the teacher needs to be a jack-of-all-trades who can cover all areas of a curriculum. Blended learning allows teachers to share the workload by adding technology into the classroom for an even better learning experience.
The most common type of blended learning is called "flipping." The process is simple: students watch instructional videos at home on their own time, then come to class ready to learn from their teacher and peers.
The teacher can lead discussions about the videos in class, instead of waiting for students to watch lectures at home. Sometimes, students will even be able to work on projects or assignments together in class, instead of spending hours working on them alone at home.
It's important for teachers to remember that blended learning will not work in every situation. The flipped classroom model works best in courses where the concepts don't change from year to year — history and math are great examples of subjects that can benefit from this type of setup.
What are the best ways to learn from other teachers?
Blended learning allows teachers to do more than just teach—they can also learn from one another. Teachers can create professional networks, share best practices, and collaborate on new ideas for how to reach students effectively.
Teachers can even teach one another new methods for incorporating technology into their lessons, or provide feedback on lesson plans or other worksheets that they've used effectively with their own students.
In a culture that has been built upon a belief in the importance of the master/apprentice relationship, it is not surprising that teachers have wondered how to benefit from their colleagues' expertise.
There are several ways teachers can blend professional development activities with their own teaching practices in order to help them learn from each other. Some methods may be more relevant than others, depending on the setting.
For example, if you are a teacher in a small rural school where your students all come from similar backgrounds, you might find it helpful to share ideas about how to best teach students from different cultures or how to accommodate students who have special needs.
There are five fundamental ways that teachers can blend their own learning
Teaching is a collaborative profession. Teachers collaborate with their colleagues, their students and their parents to ensure that every student succeeds.
The five principal ways that teachers can blend their own learnings together include:
inter-professional action research
Peer coaching — this involves a teacher working one-on-one with a colleague to support their professional learning.
Peer observation — this involves a teacher observing a colleague teach and offering feedback — usually in conjunction with another peer observation or coaching session.
Collaborative inquiry — this involves a group of teachers working together to plan, implement and evaluate an action research project focussing on a particular issue.
Inter-professional action research — this involves cooperating with members of other professions to address an educational problem or question. The aim is to develop teaching strategies that are informed by the expertise from outside the classroom.
Team teaching — this involves teachers from different schools working together to co-deliver a course, activity or program for students.
How can you get the most out of your blended learning experience?
Designing a blended learning experience is simple. But it's also hard, because the experience you design has to be good for everyone involved — students, teachers and administrators.
Blended learning is a great way to help students learn at their own pace and strengthen the relationship between teachers and students.
If you're looking to get started with blended learning in your classroom or school, here are some things to consider:
Identify the goals for each course
Before you plan, make sure you have clear goals for your course...
What do you hope your students will be able to do by the end of the course?
What are their big takeaways?
How will they demonstrate that they've mastered that knowledge?
Choose tools that work for everyone
When you're choosing technology solutions, make sure they're accessible for all of your students. Some schools offer tablet programs where every student gets an iPad or other device.
Other schools provide laptops or desktops. Some schools have 1:1 classrooms where every student has their own device, while others have computer labs with shared devices.
Design for the student
Blended learning is at its best when it's personal; when the student has control over what they learn and when they learn it, and when teachers use technology to make the process better rather than force students into a specific schedule or "one right way" of learning. It's about creating an individualized, self-paced learning experience that makes sense for every student.
The key to doing this well is having a solid understanding of your students and their needs. You can't design a one-size-fits-all blended learning program — even if you're connecting online content to classroom instruction and assessments, each student will learn differently.
At the end of the day, whatever approach you adopt, blended learning can help you achieve your goals. It does this by giving you greater flexibility in course design while allowing students to bank on what they are already good at.
And far from being a fad, blended learning has evolved to where it’s more comprehensive and firmly entrenched in today's education system. For these reasons, teachers shouldn't be afraid to try implementing a blended learning into their own course design.