How Do You Define a Blended Learning Environment

How Do You Define a Blended Learning Environment

“Learning spaces should encourage students to create, collaborate, contribute, design, reflect, & more!” - Steven Weber

Speaking of the Blended Learning Environment, there are few points that can’t be missed out on. The model makes use of technology which is essential but the purpose of integrating the same is even more important. The term blended has to bring balance to maintain the teaching equilibrium focusing on the individual needs of the students and keeping the engagement intact. The “Blended Learning Environment” utilizes both on-line and face to face learning activities. A lot has been said on the learning model and there are limitless posts, resources and other sources of information on the same. However the researches have not stopped to find out the right way of the needed alteration to keep improving the results. 

A report from the Clayton Christensen Institute, authored by Julia Freeland, notes that blended learning environment supports competency-based learning in at least the following four ways:

1. “Online content can offer a continuum of learning along which students can progress at a flexible pace.”

2. Assessments can be delivered on-demand when students are learning online.

3. Students have more than one lesson, or one information source, through which to access content, because online learning is delivered in a “more modular manner” than face-to-face instruction. This leads to students having “multiple pathways to mastery.”

4. Blended learning offers tools for personalized education, which can support districts that are trying to scale competency-based learning systems.

Not to forget some advantages that are observed when worked upon the model of blended learning. Some of the advantages of having an effective blended learning environment include:

- Learners are not limited to one medium or delivery channel to meet the learning objectives.

- It promotes a continuous learning approach which is more effective at creating change and deep learning.

- It provides more opportunities for social learning, collaboration, increased participation and informal strategies.

- Using both synchronous and asynchronous approaches can provide more opportunities for learners to cultivate skills and apply them.

- There is the potential for faster development and reduced costs depending on the approaches that are selected.

- Technology-enabled delivery can reach a geographically dispersed audience.

I came across this resource on blended learning by the LA Trobe University that defines the concept very nicely. Below is a glimpse of the same.

The table highlights few models of the blended learning environment. Examples aligned to the models are discussed in the original post. Check them out.

Below I am sharing a few best practices of blended learning that you might find useful to have that blended learning environment:

- Do NOT pre-select the delivery format without performing a thorough content analysis and knowing the requirements of your target audience.

- It is advisable to use eLearning to deliver fundamental concepts and for pre-training preparation/induction. Then, get your learners together into a classroom for advanced concepts, practices and hands-on exercises.

- Instructor Led Training programs could be used to train learners on complex concepts, whereas eLearning courses could be used to complement and reinforce the learning.

- As we know, long courses are very difficult to handle and increase the cognitive load on learners. So, it is better to keep them short and precise. Short courses are easy to handle and digest.

- Be realistic in your expectations from various groups. For example, you don’t expect your sales engineers to spend several hours taking your eLearning courses before they attend a classroom training session. Make sure you know their choices/ requirements before providing them with the courses.

With so much hype around the use of technology in education the question is how much attention is being given to this worthy hype? It certainly does deserve all the hype as it is a much needed factor to provide the efficient education and to lead in the 21st century. However, all the resources and the effort will go empty if teachers aren’t trained to use it effectively and accept the integration of technology with open arms and evolve as the students are already digital natives being instructed by digital naives. The time is to pull up the socks.    

Do share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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