Educators continue to take advantage of advancing technology in the classroom with blended learning. Educators can mix four core instruction models to enhance classroom learning.
The four models have a common strength, the ability to place learning more into the hands of students. Formal in nature, blended learning is made up of brick and mortar classroom courses and online learning.
At the K-12 level, blended learning has taken off. Private and public postsecondary schools use a combination of classroom and virtual courses to teach students basic and advanced subjects like math, science, language, arts, communication and history.
"Blended learning will expand our ability to individualize instruction." said Lauren Caton, principal at St. Therese School, in Lakeshore Weekly News, "Blended learning will help teachers provide reinforcement and enrichment for our students."
To be effective, school administrators that implement blended learning strategies must develop a clear vision, understand which academic courses fit best with blended learning models and provide ongoing support to educators and students. Administrators must also adhere to a clearly outlined vision rather than allow themselves to be steered off course by software demands or limitations.
School administrators must also understand the four core models of blending learning, which are:
In this learning model, students rotate between learning in groups in a classroom setting to completing lab coursework. Other learning environments involved in this model are online learning and individualized training. An example of this is when a student spends two months taking traditional classroom courses, another two months enhancing their learning in the lab, two months completing homework and other school work at home and, finally, another two months completing an individualized academic program her teacher designed for her.
Teachers are physically present with the flex model. Although it mirrors traditional learning environments, the flex model differs from traditional models in that students complete online coursework. Certified teachers are present to offer guidance and answer questions as needed.
After receiving face-to-face instruction, students return home to finish school work. There are instances where students return to the classroom to receive additional instruction and guidance two to three times before a course is fully completed.
Students complete courses online or in a traditional classroom setting. If they choose to take courses online, they still interact with their instructors virtually. Rather than consisting solely of online or offline courses, the model requires students to complete a portion of their coursework online and another portion of their coursework in the classroom.
Although administrators don't always use all four models, doing so could empower students with the ability to design how they learn. In fact, research has shown that combining two or more learning models is more effective than face-to-face classroom instruction alone. As an example, after Summit Public Schools implemented blended learning, its founder Diane Tavenner was reported in Education Week saying, "what we discovered as an organization is that blended learning completely opened our thinking to the possibility and power of what this could look like if you really took it from blended to optimized classrooms."
More research is needed at the individual school and district levels before real measurements can be taken of recently developed models, the types of learning techniques that are starting to expand outside the four core models. The ability of educators to grasp and deliver high levels of student instruction using software will also impact the future of blended learning as the techniques continue to be shaped and reshaped.
Davy, M. (2014, July 29). Blended Learning to Help Students Pace Learning. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from weeklynews.com
Clayton Christenten Institute (2012). Blended Learning Model Definitions. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from christenseninstitute.org
Schwartz, K. (2013, August 21). Four Essential Principles of Blended Learning. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from blogs.kqed.org
Ash, K. (2012, October 23). Blended Learning Models Generating Lessons Learned. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from edweek.org