Today's digital native learners enjoy interactive educational opportunities. If you've spent anytime with a child age 5-18, that almost goes without saying. However, traditional "brick-and-mortar" learning methods often treat digital native students as passive recipients, rather than active participants, in the learning process.
If your students' passive nature is a blocker to learning, you may want to take a look at instituting a blended learning model. The blend of online and offline resources offers educators the opportunity to engage students in methods that help make the overall learning process more intriguing and even fun, thereby increasing the retention rate of new concepts and skills learned in the classroom.
Quick Blended Learning model definitions
Blended learning models combine components of both the traditional classroom (i.e. offline learning) and online, computer-based, or other digital learning. The idea behind the combination is to maximize learning opportunities, while differentiating instruction across offline and online resources to appeal to all students and learning styles.
The four primary blended learning are:
- Rotation: Engages students in alternating or rotating modalities that encompass both classroom and online learning activities
- Flex: Includes learning online while in a traditional classroom under teacher supervision
- A La Carte: Includes individualized instruction that combines offline and online classes, often with online classes supplementing or enriching traditional instruction
- Enriched Virtual: Similar to A La Carte, but includes an entire class taking the same offline and online courses
How you can avoid using Blended Learning as "A New Way of the Old Way"
If you're looking at blended learning for your classroom, you need to ask yourself, "How will blending online and offline learning better my instruction abilities?"
Reason being is, you'll want to avoid just adding computers or tablets to your classroom for the sake of having technology. Educational technology provides teachers greater personalized learning possibilities than ever existed before, and just handing students a tablet with a textbook built into the device simply doesn't take advantage of the advances.
You probably already know strong offline learning methods, but if you're seeking ways to strengthen the online aspect, be sure to check out the eight blended learning methods listed below.
- BYOD: One of the most popular and commonly known acronyms in education, BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device (or alternately, BYOT, for Bring Your Own Technology). Many students already carry smartphones, iPads, iPods, and other digital devices, so it only makes sense for savvy educators to harness the interest and familiarity in and of the devices for approved, guided learning activities.
- Flipped Classrooms: Another big buzzword amongst educators, the Flipped Classroom blended learning model can be an effective way for educators to provide more deeper instruction in the classroom with students, who then follow-up the classroom instruction with online activities and video instruction (or vice versa).
- Blogs: Encouraging students to create their own blogs, or help with a class blog, is an effective way for them to not only learn about more technology, but also to develop writing and communication skills (expression, analysis, etc.). Kidblog is a great site to work with when starting a classroom/student blog network.
- Forums: An online class forum is yet another way to engage students in writing and communication skills, whether for assigned discussion topics or informal discussion in an online community environment. Forums are great for collaboration and positive debate.
- Wikis: Assigning different tasks to individual students or groups of students, the class can create a wiki online for topics they are currently studying. Wikis serve as a great function for students to help and teach one another. You can even start one today for your classroom via Wikispaces.
- Virtual Classrooms: Educators can create virtual classrooms as supplements to traditional classrooms to reinforce learning during weekends, vacations, and summer. This can be done via educator-created content or educational content (hint... hint... maybe even providing fun math content like Wowzers).
- Online Assignments/Homework: For supplemental homework, reinforcement, and/or enrichment, educators may choose a site or content provider that offers practice instruction and exercises. These assignments or homework can be accessed anywhere internet is available, and can be completed in a variety of learning environments.
- Podcasts: Educators and students can create their own podcasts to provide further instruction and insight on a new concept. Much like reports of the past, students can create a "moving story", maybe viewed as a news cast or just fun collaboration. Podcasts are also a great way to provide instruction in a flipped classroom setting.
Getting your Twenty-first century classroom started
The great thing about blended learning is that the above eight tips are only a small portion of the awesome learning possibilities presented by online and offline instruction. Honestly, the possibilities for educators and students are endless.
As we've seen time and time again here at Wowzers, blended learning is truly transformational. It has the ability to greatly enhance engagement, and most importantly, can better meet the learning needs of today's students.
Tell us about your Blended Learning experiences
Whether you're a blended learning pro or are new to the EdTech game, we'd love to hear about it! If you're a social media user, tell us about your successes with technology in the classroom by tweeting at the @Wowzers Twitter page or posting on our Wowzers Facebook page.