5 Benefits of Incorporating Blended Learning
As defined by Dziuban et al., Blended Learning is an instructional method that includes the efficiency and socialization opportunities of the traditional face-to-face classroom with the digitally enhanced learning possibilities of the online mode of delivery. Characteristics of this approach include the following-
(a) student-centered teaching where every student has to be actively involved in the content,
(b) increased opportunities for interaction between student-faculty, student-student, content-student, and student-additional learning material;
(c) opportunities to collect formative and summative assessments to improve course offerings (Watson, n.d.). A blended course comprises in-person sessions accompanied by online resources and tasks- essentially a combination of face-to-face and online learning.
A central element of a blended course is that online resources do not substitute for in-person class time; instead, the intended purpose is to enhance and build upon the concept discussed in the classroom.
Educators use blended and hybrid Learning interchangeably. However, there is a difference as online components of hybrid courses intend to substitute in-person class time.
Online interactions in the hybrid medium of instruction can be completed either synchronously using real-time meeting sessions or asynchronously, where students interact at different times (Siegelman, 2019).
Blended Learning is itself a blend. It is a mix of pedagogical approaches that combines the effectiveness and the socialization opportunities of the classroom with the technological enhancements of Online Learning (Dziuban, Hartman).
While examining the pros and cons of these learning formats is crucial, we must understand the benefits of hybrid and blended Learning and how instructors can utilize them to facilitate lifelong Learning and higher education settings.
Oliver and Trigwell extended Blended Learning to not only combine technology but include child psychology facets and summarize-
- combining or mixing web-based technology to accomplish an educational goal;
- combining pedagogical approaches (e.g., constructivism, behaviorism, cognitivism) to produce an
- optimal learning outcome with or without instructional technology;
- combining any form of instructional technology with face-to-face instructor-led training; and
- combining instructional technology with actual job tasks.”
Benefits of Blended Learning
There is a fundamental shift in instruction, learning and evaluation methods. With technology integration, there is a sure possibility of optimizing teaching and learning outcomes. The traditional techniques do have the outreach pedagogy that technology integration has. Blended Learning saves time and energy and opens new pathways to approaches to pedagogy. Blended Learning facilitates accessibility and the most effective use of resources. Covid-19 changed the landscape of education. The pandemic compelled districts and schools to examine different instructional approaches, including online, hybrid and blended learning methods
Improved Learning Outcomes
Research and real-life implementations of Blended Learning have improved student learning outcomes. The pedagogy became more engaging and less tiresome. Teachers use digital tools to plan lessons, evaluate, and incorporate prodigious digital resources available online. Blended Learning as a delivery method, the course redesign incorporating digital and tech tools has helped students achieve better grades, knowledge, and understanding of course concepts.
Blended Learning and teaching approaches directly impact and substantially enhance student learning experiences by influencing students’ perception of the learning environment and academic achievement.
The research concludes that elements of the learning environment, which can be influenced and controlled by instructors, affect how students approach studying and the subsequent learning outcomes they attain (Lizzio et al.). Chickering and Gamson developed Seven Principles for Good Practices. To ensure students have successful learning experiences, it is therefore vital to consider these Seven Principles in conjunction with the elements and design of the learning environment.
They concluded that Blended Learning-
- encourages contact between students and faculty,
- fosters cooperation among students
- encourages active learning,
- gives prompt feedback,
- emphasizes time on task,
- communicates high expectations,
- augments diverse ways of learning and
- promotes anywhere, anytime learning.
Educators attribute enhanced learning outcomes to increased student participation, increased enthusiasm for learning, the ability to facilitate group work in a very efficient manner, and the provision of standardized user-friendly sharing and learning interfaces across the elementary school.
Blended Learning reduces student drop-outs because of the self-paced, competency-based, anywhere-anytime learning. Blended Learning encourages flexibility that reinforces autonomy of knowledge, defining learning goals, reflection and self-assessment, and gives control of learning to the student. The student can work from home and submit assignments at their own pace according to their competency level. Blended Learning has the powerful transformative potential that provides the opportunity to encourage inquiry-based, active and meaningful learning. This flexibility accommodates students with varied learning styles, non-traditional course access requirements, and non-traditional course pacing preferences. Also, educators can increase the cohort size, and the number of classes decreases.
Saving Cost And Energy Creates Opportunities To Upskill
Blended Learning can reduce the staff and student classroom contact time and consequently save on staffing costs. Cost savings should be considered a valid benefit of blended Learning. Institutions save a lot of time and energy, and even resources as developed materials can be placed online and re-used for an extended time. Flexibility promotes achieving high-quality learning outcomes in less time and positive student learning experiences, with high teacher satisfaction and a reasonable workload that allows staff time for research and scholarship.
Simulated Learning Experiences
Students and teachers are encouraged to try something new every academic year to enhance and augment learning. As they say, “The internet never sleeps,” an extraordinary and humongous amount of new and fresh resources are created every minute to use and exploit.
The most compelling aspect of blended learning is the use of different teaching methods makes the delivery easier to understand. As a result, student engagement is high. Teachers use AR VR in the class to make their lessons more immersive. Not only is student engagement increased, but teachers and educators also note high accountability in students.
“Although we are reaching thousands of people in London in our lecture halls each year, we are reaching millions online through our videos. We film our lectures and then release them online for free viewing on our website. For us, our videos are another method of achieving the central aim of learning, the provision of free education,” Franklin States.
Using Multiple Learning And Engagement, And Retention Modes
Study shows that learning improves by combining different activities with passive teaching and learning. Including/incorporating videos, audio, Wikipedia (for some information), ARVR, and Artificial Intelligence allows the teacher and the students to discuss, compare and share their findings. Multimedia learning combines more than one mode of information presentation, such as visual images, with a narration learning environment. Students are Micro-learning with infographics, video clips, tables, graphs, and charts and using multiple platforms for pictures and illustrations. Project-based, problem-solving activities encourage students to demonstrate the practical application of newly learned skills. Using various modes of learning and engagement makes education exciting and broadens the spectrum of learning and engagement. On the other hand, formative supported by technology make assessments on the go to monitor individual progress, making retention of learning permanent.
The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition-SAMR model highlights our tendency to use new technologies in old-school ways.
- REDEFINITION: Technology enables new tasks, previously inconceivable
- MODIFICATION: Technology allows significant task redesign
- AUGMENTATION: Technology acts as a direct substitute, with functional improvement
- SUBSTITUTION: Technology acts as a direct substitute with no functional improvement.
Data Analytics To Navigate And Personalize Learning
It’s easier to achieve excellence with data on current performance and benchmarks. However, data must primarily inform—to direct support to the students, teachers, and schools that need it most—not to punish.
As Shelly Blake-Plock puts it-
“Consider a standard gradebook full of letter grades and percentages. In one sense, this table of letters and numbers offers factual information about how one student may have progressed over time or how she compares to her peer group’s scores. But in another sense—in a sense informed by a world of streaming data, where data convey a narrative about students’ digital experiences—the grade book tells us little about what happened, how the student attempted, and what it suggests about the learner.
The time is ripe for investigating new models of assessment that take advantage of advancements in cloud services, streaming data architectures, APIs, and a new generation of web-based applications. Applying these tools to learning, we can surface meaningful patterns previously too obscure if they are simple enough.
It prompts us to consider a wholly new human-machine assessment model for the digital age, not simply a digitized version of analogue assessment at scale. For example, automation can maximize the efficiency and timeliness of tactical learning interventions (e.g., micro- and macro-adaptations). However, automation can also help identify those interventions best addressed by a human—who, in a web-scale context, needn’t be a single pre-signed instructor. Instead, distributed networks could serve learners of potential teachers and mentors from across the globe. Based on various automated analyses, the system could recommend the optimum (human) learning facilitators for different situations (including, potentially, the individual learners). In this way, we enable widespread distribution, not just of individual instruction, but of the entire ecosystem—including its human capital.”
Shelly further adds-
“Analytics and data visualization are now mainstream. The maturation of cloud services and the adoption of new web technologies have accelerated both fields. Among the most important innovations has been the development of new streaming data systems. These technologies can handle the exponentially increasing scales of data produced—not only by traditional web and social media technologies but also by machines and sensors.” The most compelling aspect of blended learning is the use of different teaching methods makes the delivery easier to understand. As a result, student engagement is high. Not only is student engagement increased, but teachers and educators also note high accountability in students. Students take responsibility and ownership of their learning.”
But First, teachers and educators must use technology correctly to be effective. It is not enough to “add technology” as if it were the missing magic ingredient. The use of tech must start with learning goals, and must be integrated with the curriculum. Teachers must adapt technology to the lesson plan, and evaluation to monitor progress and inform future instruction. Teachers must work in collaboration with students, parents and colleagues for optimal learning outcomes.