General Education

What Is Blended Learning Anyway?

What Is Blended Learning Anyway?
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Molly Pennington, PhD profile
Molly Pennington, PhD July 31, 2014

Blended Learning is a lot like a mashup. As a teaching style it fuses, or blends, different elements to create a dynamic and interactive classroom setting. Especially when that classroom is partially online.

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Blended Learning is a lot like a mashup. As a teaching style it fuses, or blends, different elements to create a dynamic and interactive classroom setting.

Especially when that classroom is partially online. Online technology is increasingly becoming a classroom staple whether in the form of preschoolers using smart boards or college kids downloading their professor's lecture notes.

Who Uses Blended Learning?

In many classrooms, Blended Learning is already standard operating procedure . That's great, because studies show that Blended Learning courses are increasing in number and often more successful than "normal" courses. (Check out those statistics here.) You may remember the days when a single teacher stood up front, perhaps at a lectern, and disseminated information.

These days in a blended learning environment, that same teacher might skip the lecture because a video of it is posted on the course website, and start class by going online to reference the google doc students created as their homework. They may have embedded media, related film and images, and the professor can immediately access even more related content.

She can pull up audio or video to review or clarify student questions. It may sound complicated or messy, but Blending Learning techniques enhance education, offering richer, more interactive, and a more student-centered culture of learning.

Blended Learning Still Uses a Classroom

The face-to-face component of learning doesn't get lost. In classes that take place solely online, with only digital interaction between classmates or the teacher, students report feeling isolated. But when individual learning, at a student's own pace and in their own time, blends with in-person discussions and collaboration, students describe a stronger sense of community. And that leads to stronger learning outcomes.

Blended Learning Uses a Variety of Instructional and Digital Technologies

The chalkboard gives way to smart boards and projected desktops. Professors and students can use every manner of media both in and outside the classroom. Most courses have their own website or use a platform like Blackboard or Moodle, so students have an online portal to post or retrieve documents. And many courses include online discussion boards. Some professors even ask students to submit questions via Twitter during class.

Blended Learning Is Transformative

Blended learning is often considered "disruptive"—especially to a system and tradition that needs a constructive overhaul. Blending learning provides opportunities to shift and adapt learning models, pedagogy forms and educational styles. Rather than making the teacher obsolete, blending learning optimizes the teacher's time and resources. Students can often develop and learn at their own pace. They often have the option to learn in the style that suits them.

Blended Learning Is the Future

There will always be teachers and brick and mortar classrooms. But Blended Learning techniques are becoming the new standard. Blended Learning is not about putting everything online and hooking students to computers all day whether they're learning the alphabet or calculus. Instead, blending a classroom just means that it increasingly adapts and blends content with the latest educational technology and innovation in order to give students a constantly evolving and dynamic classroom. The traditional lecture doesn't become obsolete. It becomes state-of-the-art, translatable, and especially, accessible. Pause it. Replay. Share. Or mash it up with your favorite song. Likely, you'll learn something new.


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