In a perfect world, all students would experience the many benefits that come from utilizing a blended learning model of instruction. Because having face-to-face time with an instructor and one’s peers is just as important for the learning process as exploring new information at one’s own pace and gaining new technical skills.
To receive a well-rounded education, students need social interaction, a teacher to facilitate the learning process, and a dynamic curriculum that emphasizes how to think as opposed to rote memorization of facts.
Blended learning has been around since the late 1990s. So what exactly is blended learning?
Blended learning is:
- Having students learn both in-person and online (on-demand)
- Giving students some control over their on-demand online learning programs
- Combining in-person (teacher led) and on-demand (on-line) instruction for a blended, or integrated, learning experience so they have a comprehensive education
Blended learning is combining all the good things about in-person, instructor-led teaching with all the good things about learning through an on-demand curriculum online.
Many school districts have gotten the concept of blended learning wrong while claiming to use it regularly in their own classrooms.
Blended learning is not:
- Making one teacher teach both in-person and virtual students simultaneously
- Having all students completing online instruction at the same time and at the same pace
- Requiring teachers to post all lesson plans, assignments, and quizzes online
- Forcing students to work in isolation
While some students may excel within the in-person, instructor-led classroom or a virtual instructor-led class, many students find the most success in a true blended learning model. Those school districts that effectively implement blended learning see results.
Developing differentiated instruction for each student means taking into account all of their diverse talents, abilities, knowledge, and challenges. A blended learning curriculum requires developing activities for all students including in class, instructor-led and on-demand, online programs. Having to create both types of curriculum can be a very daunting task for an already over-loaded teacher.
School districts really need designated staff to help manage the on-demand, online portion of blended learning. This staff should work closely with classroom teachers.
Blended learning models can be very successful for school districts and students when implemented correctly. Understanding the unique needs of both, then building a plan to combine the two programs into a full curriculum provides a well-rounded educational program for students and can help school districts support a broader range of subjects more cost effectively.