People who welcome and adapt well to change poise themselves for success. Progress marches forward in every life arena including education, and technology is the catalyst for most of that change. Therefore, educators and administrators need to prepare themselves for and embrace the changes that are occurring in education right now, including the rise of blended learning.
What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is a combination of in-person and virtual classrooms. Blended learning classes might meet in person a few times a week and access the rest of their assignments, classes and activities remotely, or they could take a variety of different approaches. The key component is that they unite conventional education with technology-based learning.
Why is Blended Learning on the Rise?
The most obvious answer to this question is, “COVID-19.” The pandemic turned virtual education from a semi-novelty to an absolute necessity. Schools had to either discover how to teach and learn differently or stop teaching and learning altogether. Most school systems, administrators and teachers were not prepared and student learning suffered.
The latter option wasn’t viable, so virtual classrooms became mainstream, which has proven to be an effective way to teach. Since progress never marches backward, brick-and-mortar schools need to plan for and embrace blended learning in the post-COVID world as a way to stay current with best practices and continue moving forward into a sustainable future.
Preparing Students for a Digital World
The purpose of education is to help students realize their full potential and prepare them to contribute fully to society as they mature. That said, educators would do their charges a grievous disservice if they didn’t prepare them to thrive in the digital world in which we live.
The virtual aspects of blended learning require students to be technologically savvy, self-starters and practice self-discipline and time management. They also learn specific skillsets that will serve them well in the 21st century and prepare them to operate in an increasingly ‘techy’ real world.
Learning at Their Own Pace, On-Demand Learning
Classroom teachers are at the mercy of the bell; they have to cover a certain amount of information in a limited amount of time. That hour-long class has a Goldilocks effect — for some learners it’s too long, for others it’s too short, and for the lucky ones it’s just right.
On the flip side, online, on-demand lessons offer more convenience but also requires more discipline by the student. Many of them allow learners to scaffold from one concept to the next at their own pace, which can provide a sizable boost to gaining additional knowledge. They move on when they’re ready and when they have demonstrated the skill mastery to do so, which brings us to our next point.
Virtual classrooms and activities provide a powerful forum for teachers and students to work together, real-time. From project/activity-based learning to small group learning, virtual classrooms can provide more learning tools than most traditional teachers have at their fingertips. They an also quickly and easily assess learning, engagement and performance levels of every student. Students don’t have to wait for teachers to grade their quizzes or assignments to gauge their progress, they see their results immediately through the virtual classroom technology. These timely assessments promote student engagement, as their minds don’t have the chance to “cool off” while they wait to see how they did. Learners stay engrossed in their tasks, work with other students and can continuously connect with the teacher until their project work is completed.
Traditional schools have a time-honored and valuable place in our world, but they need to embrace blended learning to stay abreast of changing times and best prepare their students for the future. Simply put, blended learning is an amalgamation of the best education technology and schools have to offer.
To understand more about how virtual classroom technology can improve your educational offering visit Jigsaw Interactive at www.jigsawinteractive.com.