Blended LEARNING in a nutshell
WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING?
Blended learning a combination of different learning and teaching methods. One example of blended learning would be studies, that combine traditional teacher led lessons in a class room and remote studies on a digital learning platform. Remote studies can contain studies both in realtime and offline. In realtime studies the student follows online live lectures and connects with the teacher or tutor with the collaboration tools on the learning paltform. In offline mode the students work on the learning platform; for example read the learning materials and watch teachers’ lectures on video and then do exercises or other homework. In offline mode they can ask for help with the tutor and chat -tools. One of the many advantages of blended learning is the flexibility of schedules and the fact that all studies follow a predefined curriculum and lesson plan.
1. TIMING: Student has more control over study schedules adapting them to personal schedules.
2. ADAPT TO LEARNING STYLES: Teacher can adapt the learning process to each student’s personal learning style thus improving the learning results.
3. ANYWHERE: Studies are not attached only to a campus or classroom, you can study anywhere, yet get the support of teacher and other students.
WHY IS BLENDED LEARNING SO RELEVANT?
The media and technology around us has gone through a fundamental change during the last decade. Internet has caused exponential growth in the volume of available information. People have shifted from passive consumers of media to active producers and contributors, which has boosted the growth of various online communities. These developments have also dramatically changed how learning takes place, as the role of both online and “real-life” communities has grown.
In blended learning the student is an active collaborator, building information and knowledge as part of communities. Internet is full of content, and one part of modern learning involves how to gather and use it. In blended learning teacher initially delivers information that is aligned with the curriculum and guides the learning process of the students, so that they can gradually move into more independent information gathering and processing. As the student proceeds to generate own analysis and knowledge from reliable sources, the student simultaneously learns to evaluate the trustworthiness of various information gathered. Additionally the student takes a bigger role on his or her own learning process, as it is partially planned, performed and evaluated by the student.
From teacher’s point of view blended learning learning means more resources and time to guide and evaluate students. As the learning platform’s capabilities take care of e.g. checking and scoring of more simple homework or tests, teacher has more time to face the students as individuals. For example in mathematics modern intelligent exercise engines give the student immediate feedback, guiding to find the errors and simultaneously signaling to the teacher if a student has problems with e.g. certain types of arithmetical tasks. This makes it easier for the teacher to guide the student towards developing precisely the right skills and tools.
Independently performed offline studies build students skills to manage his or her own learning processes, and give more flexibilty both to student and teacher. When studies are performed following a less fixed schedule, the student can optimize the workload. With proper tutoring and support remote studies are at least equally efficient as traditional classroom education. Digital materials and exercises adapt easily to needs of various kinds of students.