There has been much written about blended learning in recent years. The term “blended learning” means that students learn both from traditional activities in the classroom and from technology-based programs and instruction. Creating a blended learning environment for students can become very challenging for a teacher. She must ensure she has the right devices for the students to use, enough bandwidth on the school WIFI to ensure everyone can do what they need to do, appropriate software to accomplish learning goals, and a way to ensure that students are engaging appropriately in learning.
Given the many challenges to implementing a blended learning model, why in the world would a teacher decide to do this?
1. Because it provides instruction that matches student skill
A student who has access to blended learning can get experiences that are “just right” for her needs at each moment. She no longer has to wait for the rest of the class to grasp a concept and conversely, she can review as much as necessary to gain understanding. Blended learning options provide personalized instruction that allows a student to pace herself comfortably and get what she needs, when she needs it.
2. Because it expands learning time
Learning can happen anytime, anywhere when a solid blended learning model is in place. Students can access school software at home, on a phone in the car, or anyplace there is access to the web. A student who did not have time to complete learning activities at school can complete them later, when he is ready. He can get what he needs when he needs it.
3. Because it prepares them for real life
We live in a world where information is at our fingertips. Gone are the days when we had to rely on others to tell us things. We can look up anything that we want to know. We can explore new ideas and seek understanding. We can communicate with other people all over the world to discuss things of interest. Schools are simply irrelevant in today’s world if they are not helping students to engage in learning through the vast amount of resources online.
4. Because teachers need to focus on human interactions
The job of a teacher is more complex than it has ever been. Online learning tools can alleviate many of the burdens of teaching so each teacher can focus on developing relationships with her students and facilitate their independent learning. You can’t replace a teacher, but you can make her life easier.
5. Because its the way our kids learn
Our kids are involved in blended learning in all aspects of their lives. They search the web for information on music and then download music they like. They learn to code through Minecraft. They create their own videos and interact with one another online. Our kids learn in ways we could not have imagined even ten years ago. We must teach the way they learn.
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