***This content is based on an interview with Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, Dr. Charles Graham. ***
The simplest way to define blended learning is the combination of face-to-face and online instruction. There are a lot of potential benefits that can come from blended learning. I like to talk about the potential advantages in terms of the 6 P’s.
It can be difficult to get each student to actively participate in a face-to-face classroom setting. In a typical classroom setting, students, especially those sitting in the back of the classroom, can easily get away with not participating as long as they aren’t being disruptive. But in a blended learning environment, you can actually require participation from your students through the use of online programs. By reviewing student data or requiring participation in online discussions—you have visual proof of whether students are participating and engaging with lesson material.
In a typical classroom, students are at varying levels of mastery on any given subject. Blended learning, where you combine teacher instruction with online learning, not only helps teachers by giving them the data they need to pace themselves appropriately in their face-to-face instruction, but also allows students to practice/learn skills on their own time at and their own pace.
Teachers have to pace their classroom at a certain rate, to meet the needs of the majority of their students. When their instruction lacks personalization, not only are there students that are getting lost and falling behind but there are also students on the other side of the spectrum that are so far ahead that they’re bored and lose interest with the instruction. But as teachers take advantage of online resources associated with blended learning they are able to better personalize their instruction.
With a blended learning approach we can think outside the classroom. Students can be at home, at the library, or anywhere they have access to the internet and complete online instruction. Then, when they return to the classroom we can discuss their work.
Teachers can structure the online portions of a blended environment to enrich the personal interaction we have with students. People often think that online instruction is very impersonal, and it can be if it’s just interaction with content. But we can create personal interactions online with students that are targeted and focused based off of the data we receive.
One challenge that almost all teachers face is students coming unprepared to class. There are a lot of ways that we can use blended learning to help. Students can be prepared ahead of time through the use of online assessments and quizzes, but also, online tools can provide teachers with data that will help them be more prepared to teach effectively. If the teacher has good dashboards and information from the online portions of blended learning, then the teacher can prepare a lesson of instruction for the day that’s targeted to the needs of the students.
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Most teachers implement some form of blended learning in their classrooms and don’t even realize it. What do you think constitutes a blended learning classroom? Share your thoughts by posting under the comments section. We’d love to hear from you!