The many forms of blended learning

Edgar Rider

Is blended learning something like putting bananas and apples in a blender and coming up with a different type of systematic educational concoction? A more soothing, refreshing, learning beverage for students to gulp down? Is it a smoothie for better learning? Blended learning is combining the ideas of ‘in the classroom study’ and ‘online learning’ to help students with their educational development. The difference is if it were a drink, it would have to have multiple layers and several hundred flavourings and be an extremely comprehensive mixture; blended learning encompasses a complicated mixture of activities.

Students get the benefit of combining classroom material and online lessons for more comprehensive lessons which is proving to be a more effective way to get beneficial results. Some of the benefits include learning to set goals, promoting independence and collaboration, and increased capacity for learning technology.

There are many different types of blended learning. In a curriculum, they may include the following: Outside In and Inside Out, Flipped Classroom, Mastery and Project Based, Supplemental, Remote, Flex, and Self Direction. There are also different rotation options such as Lab, Station, and Individual rotation.

Different types of blended learning

Outside in and inside out: Outside in projects go from outside of the classroom and end up in the classroom. The opposite is true with inside out where it starts in the classroom but ends up outside of it. For instance, if students went on a field trip and then came back to class for discussion this will be an example of outside in, but if they first have a discussion in the classroom and then go on the field trip, it will be an inside out example.

Flipped classroom is where students will learn most of the lessons, at least as far as the lecture portion, at home. Sometimes the teacher will give lessons on video and the students will listen to it the night before. The students will come to class and apply what they have learned. This will give teachers more time for hands-on instruction instead of lecturing for a good portion of the day.

Project based learning allows students to explore a real world problem over time.

Mastery is where students work at their own pace mastering an assignment and not moving on until it is completed.

Supplemental choice is for them to have an option of which information they will use at any given time. It is in this other option available that students find different ways to solve problems. An example would be students learn to solve a problem in a field experiment like the length of kicking a ball into a field goal. Then they are given the same problem to solve in a computer lab using software to figure out yardage.

Remote coursework is mostly online. The teacher and student may meet intermittently after lessons to discuss progress and issues. The benefit is that it teaches students to be more independent and become more personally responsible academically.

Flex gives students independent ability to control their assignments. The scheduled online learning gives students a bit more ability to work at their own pace.

Self direction is a blending of online instruction as well as face to face meeting to help students learn to establish goals and measure progress.

Station rotation is where students have what’s called centers where they move from station to station. Some of these are individual stations and others are built around teamwork. Individual rotation is when an individual’s classwork is scheduled based on his or her own playlist more rooted towards independent study. Lab rotation refers to more technical activities such as using computers after lectures and the teacher explains the technical instructions in the plans.

The difference between this comprehensive learning and personalized learning, which relies on individual training, is that this is a curriculum that builds on developing collaboration skills and being mentored through process and not just focused entirely on the individual but on teamwork as well. Some of the process involves individual instruction that is combined with connecting with others and establishing working relationships and aforementioned teamwork skills.

Parents need to know about these innovative learning approaches so that they can install blended learning apps and other technical software programs to help their children get a head start.

What’s important to remember is the ability of the students to become accustomed to both forms of learning – in the classroom and online. Students have to be able to adapt and be flexible.

Blended learning is the way of the future. Teachers will get lots of time in the classroom and can take online classes such as Moodle. Students will be prepared for a technological future immersed with basic educational skills. Blended learning gives them a comprehensive approach to problem solving and readies them to face the future and all the challenges of an ever increasing interdisciplinary society.

The author is an Instructional Assistant for a High School in Paradise Valley located in Phoenix, Arizona. He has published articles on topics such as Growth Mindset, Autism, STEAM Education, Substitute Teaching, and Time Management in Classroom among other subjects. He can be reached at [email protected].

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