Need for Blended Learning
While the pandemic situation highlighted the need for and enforced online learning the concept was gaining popularity even before that. Proponents of e-learning were promoting learning software and devices and learning courses on YouTube were gaining popularity as was edtech. On the other hand, parents were expressing interest in new ways of learning – if only because the traditional system was overburdened, expensive, and somewhat obsolete. Moreover, the costs of textbooks and other school supplies was rising. While this expense is unavoidable, online or even blended learning can help cut costs in other areas such as school fees and travel expenses. It has also been statistically proven that blended learning produces better results than traditional learning. Some of the other advantages of blended learning include –
- It is easier to monitor progress
- It provides flexibility in communication
- It allows for personalized approach
- It is cost effective
- It provides easy access to study material
- It helps manage diverse learning styles and diversity in classrooms.
How Blended Learning Works
As both schools and students prepare for the new normal ecosystem, many are asking which model of blended learning is best suited for them – be they teachers, students, parents, or institutions. So here’s a snapshot of six types of blended learning. Before we dive in though a word on the blended learning vs hybrid learning model.
Blended Learning Vs Hybrid Learning
When we talk of blended learning we are not simply referring to the online education we are likely to see post Covid though that is a big part of it. We are referring to tried and tested models of schooling that include experiential, F2F, distance, Pen and Paper as well as digital learning not just for higher education but at the elementary and high school levels.
The terms blended learning and hybrid learning are often used interchangeably. Indeed, both are emerging formats of learning and there is no clear or universally accepted definition for either. In general, however, hybrid learning refers to different formats of learning not necessarily limited to classroom or digital learning. For instance, a hybrid learning model would include experimental learning and informal learning coupled with classroom learning. Blended learning is a more formalized concept that has evolved out of necessity and the increasing penetration of technology. It includes 6 different learning models that are a mix of digital and traditional learning.
With that background here are the blended learning models –
FACE TO FACE DRIVER
In the Face to Face Driver model, the primary mode of teaching is still the traditional classroom. However, certain students who are unable to cope are selected for online sessions during which they are coached separately and brought up to speed with their peers.
This model is ideal for classrooms and institutions having diversity in their student body and for students with special educational needs.
THE ROTATION MODEL
The rotation model – as the name suggests – works on a fixed rotation which includes F2F time with the teacher. The rotations may be performed at school or online and include diverse teaching methodologies such as experimental, reading, writing, research, and so on.
This model works well for school going children as they are exposed to multiple methodologies yet are under supervision. In fact, 80% schools in California use this method of blended learning for elementary students. An IDEA study of Texas Public Schools found that rotational learning motivated children to challenge themselves in Math.
THE FLEX MODEL
In this model, the study material is delivered online – which means the need for textbooks reduces – while teachers are also present online to monitor and guide students. Learning is mostly independent and teacher intervention is available upon request. In a variation of the Flex model, teachers may be physically present in class instead of online.
This model is best suited to address the needs of non-traditional learners be it learning difficulty or language barrier. The availability of both visual and audio learning material along with video for demonstrations goes a long way in aiding learning. This model can also help increase the student teacher ratio when applied to traditional students who are in general capable of self-paced learning.
THE ONLINE LAB MODEL
This model is best suited for students who wish to learn certain subjects that may not necessarily be a part of the curriculum – or may be subjects rarely chosen – without disrupting the classroom. In this model, learning is primarily online but students travel to a nearby centre or computer lab which is supervised – not necessarily by teachers.
Fees or charges for using the facility are usually paid by students in addition to the course fees. The course fees of course would be reduced because of the online deployment model. The Online Lab Model is suited for schools and institutions with financial or other constraints because of which they are unable to provide the resources required for teaching. Centre fees notwithstanding, this model offers cheaper courses to students.
One published case study found that when funding for a school in Los Angeles was reduced and they switched to the Online Lab Model of teaching and increased the student teacher ratio. Despite the fact that each teacher was now handling more students, non-traditional students in grades 2 and 3 demonstrated improved mathematical skills.
THE SELF BLENDED MODEL
This model works best for self-motivated students who wish to take learning to the next level. In addition to traditional classroom teaching highly motivated students supplement their learning with online course material. The model provides a wider learning canvas for students. Actual implementation may be a matter of choice where some schools make it mandatory to include prescribed online material while others leave the option to the students themselves. The idea is to encourage students to expand the radius of their learning.
THE ONLINE DRIVER MODEL
This is the exact opposite of the F2F driver model. Here the study material is primarily delivered online and students participate remotely. They use the chat facility on the platform or messaging and emails to ask questions and clarify doubts. This is the model which most schools and institutions switched to during the pandemic.
No matter which method you or your institution adopts, the ultimate goal is for students to learn. And for this reason alone, there are no boundaries or walls. Innovation is the key and you or your school may adopt one of these models or a blend of blends.