Technology and the Internet now provide for a new approach to learning, where content can be delivered in the digital realm and content application is done in a classroom with the teacher as facilitator.
Blended learning is an education approach that combines online digital media with active learning methods within the classroom. It requires the digital and physical presence of both students and teacher. In the digital environment, it provides opportunities for students to control the time, place, pace, and path of course content. In the classroom environment, it provides both students and teacher with quality time to engage in content application, problem based inquiry, and critical thinking.
In a blended learning approach the teacher is no longer the sage on the stage, but the guide on the side. Because of this shift, blended learning requires an entirely new set of teaching skills. Blended learning maximizes learner engagement. It involves all the senses, engages learners emotionally, and is relevant, applicable, and complex.
To start with, the course content is posted in the digital environment. The digital platform can be a website, wiki, blog site, or Learning Management System (LMS) such as Moodle, Canvas, Blackboard, or the Adventist Learning Community.
Once the content is available online, there are several ways that blended learning can be deployed. The first method is for students to complete digital course content prior to face-to-face instruction. For this flipped classroom model, course completion criteria must be explicit. Learning activities and assessments such as quizzes or tests must be complete prior to the face-to-face portion of training. Otherwise, the value of the group work done together at the end of the course will be diminished. This approach can be accomplished with minimal to no teacher presence in the online environment followed by a face-to-face facilitated learning session to end the course.
The second way to deliver blended learning is to have face-to-face instruction first, followed by completion of course content in the online environment. Again, providing clear criteria for the face-to-face and online portions of the course is critical. This approach works best if the teacher remains an active presence while students complete the course materials online.
A third, and highly effective, approach alternates in real time between course content in the digital realm and face-to-face instruction. Students in this type of blended learning move seamlessly between the online and in person instructional environment. This flipped classroom model maximizes both teacher and student time. It also gives students learning autonomy and teachers frequent opportunities to assess and guide learning application.
Blended learning is a great teaching strategy! It provides opportunity for students to learn at their own pace, anytime, anywhere, and gives the teacher time to meet with learners to support them in contextualized application specific to their unique learning needs.
What Blended Learning Is – And Isn’t
An exploration of the definition of blended learning and the differences between blended learning and technology rich learning
Sharon is a Registered Nurse by trade, with 16 years experience as Surgical Nurse and Nurse Educator at The Scarborough Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. She also has 11 years experience as a Professor of Nursing and Professional Development Specialist for faculty at Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning in Toronto, Ontario.
Sharon is a PhD student at Andrews University, USA.
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