Blended Learning: the Essence and Benefits in Today’s World
Today media often use the phrase “digital generation.” The American writer and researcher in education, Mark Prensky, started to use it. He was the first to define the “digital generation” as emerging today and is adept at using new technologies and expects their continued availability in all aspects of life. Today’s PaperHelp students want to learn quickly, efficiently, and mobility. One way to do this is to implement a blended-learning system.
Blended learning: what is it, and what does it consist of?
The term “blended learning” has various meanings in the literature. In general, it is a combination of offline (or personally, “on the spot”) and online learning in multiple proportions. The concept emerged in the 1990s as an antithesis to online knowledge, but it was not until the 2000s that it was studied and implemented.
The main features of blended learning
At first glance, the main difference between mixed education and the conventional system is the active use of technology to find the material and acquire new knowledge. Thus, technology becomes an integral part of the educational process. However, it is also about integrating different approaches, presenting the material, types of work. For example, part of the information is divided into group work and self-study. It does not depend on whether it is done in class or remotely.
For mixed learning, the role of teachers is also remarkable. Here they are, facilitators of the educational process. People organized collective discussions so that all the students were involved as much as possible, and the problems were solved quickly and efficiently. Thus, the main goal of teachers is not to evaluate students on exams, but to actively interact with them, monitor progress, and help them when needed. Teachers thus cease to be mere observers and take on the role of mentors.
Transferring a part of the process online distinguishes mixed teaching from the standard system in a different country — in the classroom with worksheets and textbooks. For example, students can practice the theoretical part at home, watch videos, and study souvenir materials. After that, they do practical exercises with teachers and classmates or work in groups on a project. In this model, teachers become moderators of the educational process. While working, they determine how well individual students understand the topic, and as a result, they can change the way they work with the class.
One of the hybrid learning system applications, which, according to teachers and students, is more effective than the old way of learning. The main changes:
- Teachers calculate their own time — this increases the efficiency of teaching;
- Teachers focus on non-cognitive skills (communication, self-identification, teamwork, etc.) and on shaping students’ attitudes;
- schools use the group teaching system: for example, one class is taught by two teachers who share their experience;
- One day a day, students work independently while teachers conduct short 10-week individual tests for each student(s) in the class.
Blended learning is not the same as electronic (or online) learning. Online learning does not involve personal communication between students in the classroom or between the student(s) and the teacher(s). It is sometimes its main advantage and disadvantage in comparison with mixed instruction. After all, students who learn online do not have the opportunity to communicate and develop working skills in teams personally. However, the blended learning system allows us to solve this problem. For example, a study of blended learning showed feedback from students about the best performance of this system compared to online learning and the traditional method in the classroom.
The main components of blended learning:
- Lively sub-studies. In essence, “live discussions” involve a portion of routine work “in the classroom” with teachers and other students. Depending on the blended learning system in a particular case, the amount and type of offline activity will differ. However, it is necessary as part of the learning process.
- Online content (self-study). During this type of work, a student (girl) independently develops materials at his (her) own pace and place. Teachers must provide complete and understandable instructions for the work the student(s) should do independently.
- Spin Team. Two key elements combine: work with peers and work with teachers. Students can find new solutions and share their experiences and knowledge by working with peers. Through individual work with the teacher(s), the student(s) can answer personal questions and clarify unclear points. Such a model must be created for a particular type of training and course.
- It is vital that such cooperation can take place both in the classroom during group assignments and via e-mail or social networks.
- Assessment. Evaluation is vital for both students and teachers. Students can monitor their progress, and teachers can assess their knowledge and regulate the learning process through individualized structuring. Students (-women) explain the passage of a particular course. Such a model must be created for a specific type of education and course. To understand how students perceive the material and improve this process, teachers can also use tests. For information on how to create an effective assessment system through quizzes, see our blog post “How to Create Effective Quizzes.
- Additional materials. Extras can include disrupted materials, schemes, valuable resources, and so on.
Why are the advantages of mixed learning?
Education researchers Charles Graham and Jared Stein see three main advantages of blended learning: accessibility, improvement of the educational process, and cost savings.
- Accessibility and user-friendly use. Self-assessment of some of the material makes the learning process more flexible. Listeners can watch the course at a pace that is comfortable for them. The format of the lessons often does not allow for repetition of what has been covered or comprehension of new material at the required length. In mixed instruction, students themselves can structure the passage of the material they need to learn within a single topic. For example, returning to previous lessons, looking for additional information, taking notes, etc.
- It is reducing the educational process. According to research in various fields, the blended learning system is more effective than conventional classroom or online learning, regardless of the course focus. It is due to:
- The best design of the instructions. Often courses in the blended learning system are more direct. It means a thorough methodological development and design of education for a particular period and works in it.
- The best entailment. Students do not simply receive instruction from teachers or follow a course syllabus through the blended learning system. They acquire tools for self-guidance and searching for material within the boundaries of the topic.
- They take into account the individual’s capabilities. Working with online materials allows students to move at their own pace, rather than being indifferent to the decision of the class. In some cases, the electronic system (if required by the course) provides students with a feedback loop, allowing them to fill in missed assignments or go back to terms they have forgotten.
- They are increasing the level of involvement as a result of social interaction. Because of the usual system, students rarely work on a given topic with the whole class. In addition, some people find it challenging to work with large groups of people. Therefore, instead of reducing the amount of social interaction through the introduction of an online component, blended learning is often more likely to stimulate teamwork.
- Monitored time for assignments. Online platforms allow you to watch the time students spend on different tasks. Thus, you can regulate the educational process and work with specific students.
Reducing (or bending) costs.
The blended-learning system can optimize costs for using facilities or the development of additional materials. Thus, students work online and do not require, for example, disorganized add-ons for a specific material. Mixed learning can also solve the problem with textbooks, as students can work with the materials without papery analogs. Also, we have analyzed what the hybrid learning system is, why it differs from other educational systems, and what advantages it has over them.