Blended learning is a very fashionable term, and lots of schools are using it. In schools which use blended learning, results are excellent, and student satisfaction is very high. But what is it?
Let’s first dispel some myths. If children are using computers and iPads in lessons, that isn’t necessarily blended learning. If they are using digital technology to do homework, that isn’t blended learning either. Digital technology is necessary for blended learning, but the important thing is how it is used.
The principal aim of blended learning is to provide a learning environment where each learner receives teaching and learning which is individually suited to them.
Traditionally, if children are to learn about something, they start learning about it at the beginning of the lesson, and by the end of the lesson, they have learned it. Blended learning allows teachers and learners to be free of such constraints by using the following methodologies:
• Teachers using online learning platforms to introduce lesson content before lessons to allow learners to arrive at the lesson with questions and ideas already in their minds
• Pre-teaching of lesson material using online tasks
• Use of digital technology at the beginning of lessons to quickly assess current understanding, so that lesson time is not wasted
• Using digital learning platforms to set a range of differentiated learning activities, so that learners are receiving work which suits their individual needs
• Use of video-conferencing between lessons so that learners have access to their teachers when they are not in the classroom
• Shared document platforms used for learners to submit work, so that digital feedback can be given immediately, even between lessons
• Using online tools to provide a whole range of learning activities which can be tailored to each learner’s individual needs after lessons are finished, in order to consolidate learning.
This list is certainly not exhaustive; there are so many other approaches which characterize blended learning, but the principle remains the same:
To use technology to break the constraints of the traditional lesson, and to provide learners with a tailored, individualized learning experience.