By combining engaging online instruction resources and solid offline learning experiences, educators can transform their classroom and put the old column-and-rows setting to shame! Because of this notion, blended learning environments provide today's students a distinct advantage.
Okay, so maybe you're not totally sold on blended learning just yet...
Read below the break to see how instituting a blended learning model in your classroom and school will help you raise student engagement and achievement!
An effective Blended Learning model...
1) Reduces the number of "required" learning materials
No more "my dog at my homework!" -- within a blended learning model, your kids can study almost anywhere a wireless internet connection is available. If your students have access to a tablet and/or netbook (inside and outside of the classroom), the need to carry peripheral items like textbooks, paper, and pencils on a daily basis is greatly decreased.
2) Prepares students for online assessments and lessons
Simply put, students who learn via a combination of online learning and offline instruction have a better grasp of the fundamentals needed to use digital programs and resources. This includes giving your students opportunities to build stamina while learning via online lesson plans and/or online assessments.
3) Instills digital literacy skills
Obviously, a blended learning setting means your students will learn within a traditional classroom setting and via online programs, games, resources, etc. This "blend" of instruction modalities will help your students develop the digital literacy skills that are becoming increasingly important in the post-K-12 world, including an understanding of the Internet, word processors, and search engines.
4) Offers real-time student status updates
Many online learning resources are designed to provide you (the educator) with data and visuals of a student's progress and achievement. By combining this information with your own observations from offline instruction (group and/or individual), you can develop a prescriptive view into what next steps are needed to meet that student's learning goals -- i.e. a better personalized learning plan.
5) Increases interactive learning
Blended learning environments increase both engagement and interaction. When your students are given the opportunity to interact with peers, or even to interact with the learning content itself (as seen in this great Google Docs video from the Teaching Channel), they gain a sense of collective initiative. Interacting with another peer during the learning process may be just what your student needs to gain better understanding of a difficult series of problems or concepts.
6) Provides Live Chat functionality
In addition to interactive learning, blended learning models also provide students the ability to "Live Chat". Live chat features allow the student to interact with an educator if they need help. Additionally, live chat features also enhance your students' abiilty to colaborate, either with you (the educator), fellow peers, or experts outside the classroom!
7) Gives students visual representation of progress
Via advances in educational technology, students can easily view their accomplishments and progress towards achieving higher goals (either through a virtual dashboard or elements of a Learning Management System).
Often times, the best way to motivate a student, is to show them their progress and the steps needed to reach their learning goals. When shown a visual representation of how far they have come (whether its a status bar, scores, badges, etc.), they are more likely to appreciate the work they have put in and the value of progress.
Share your classroom's blended learning stories!
The additional skills students receive through learning in a blended learning environment will programs benefit them throughout their lives. The earlier they begin working with a mix of online and offline resources, the better able they are to adapt to today's post-K-12 climate.
What do you think about blended learning models in the classroom? Share your stories, comments, and even apprehensions in the "Comments" section below or tweet us at @Wowzers!