Blended Learning changes the dynamic of a traditional classroom. It does that by fusing traditional teaching styles with online technology and instructional innovation.
Classrooms shift into interactive spaces where learning is shared, often self-paced, and collaborative in nature. Blended Learning also has a strong online component and uses multimedia and web applications to enhance learning and woo students. Blended Learning is way more vibrant than simply reading a textbook and taking a quiz. It's fun.
The blended classroom almost always has an online component. Students can work flexible hours at their own pace. But they're not out at sea by themselves. Blended classrooms often have online discussions. Some teachers have virtual office hours where they are available for a group chat to answer questions. And studies show that when students and teachers meet face to face after individual learning apart, there is a richer sense of community and collaboration. Researchers suggest that because the blended classroom puts the onus on the student, the teacher becomes a partner. Students take on a greater responsibility and become self-motivated. Traits they'll carry forward.
The teacher doesn't fade into the woodwork. Their knowledge can emerge in concentrated ways. They can spend more time on the important stuff and the nuances. Their expertise shines once they can focus on the most salient material and especially, build upon student-generated content. Course materials are available online and time-consuming tasks like rote assessment are digitized. In "flipped" courses, class time is used for vibrant, in-depth discussions or projects instead of handing out worksheets and going over the basics. All the entry-level stuff is done before anyone even gets to the classroom.
Blended Learning classrooms ultimately allow flexibility. Many modalities offer students multiple ways to get at the learning materials. Lectures may be available as a podcast, video and Powerpoint that comes with printable hand-outs or transcripts. Students can access content whenever they learn best, whether that's 8 AM or midnight. And they have the option of tailoring materials to fit their specific learning style, whether auditory, visual or kinesthetic. Curriculum is often custom-designed for individual students who choose from multiple options.
To put it simply, Blended Learning classrooms don't have the time or resource constraints of traditional brick and mortar courses. Content is technological and multimedia. And it can easily be adapted or enhanced as new information or innovations come to light. Most importantly, students aren't limited. They not only learn course content, but simultaneously develop web research aptitude, social skills and become digital citizens.
It turns out that fun is underrated. New research in "gaming" and "play" has brought to light the underlying educational strategies in these modes. It's all about the interaction. Gaming techniques help students solve problems, retain information, and stay motivated.
Researchers find that the game's efficacy as a teaching tool is dependent on the student's engagement. Many Blended Learning courses are now building in gaming strategies to enhance learning. The Blended Learning classroom takes the best of the old school and amps it up so that learning is multi-faceted, more efficient, and most importantly, interactive, engaging and exciting. And that just might be the X factor that makes a student successful.
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