Flipping Out Over Blended Learning


Blended learning is making headlines. Educators are constantly searching for new ideas to reach and teach students in more efficient and effective ways. Since 1999, the use of digital and online instructional approaches known as “blended learning” and “hybrid learning” have become increasingly popular as a way to “flip the classroom” to a model that combines online education with more traditional classroom approaches.   More recently, National Public Radio and other media sources picked up on the idea of “flipping,” which is pretty much the same concept as “blended learning.” The long-term question is whether or not using “blended” or “hybrid” learning models will produce more successful students than is the case in a solely brick-and-mortar classroom teaching model.

 

WHAT IS A “FLIPPED CLASSROOM?”

“Flipping” (or “blended learning”) is not the old lecture/take notes/complete assignments/pass a test model. When a classroom is “flipped,” lectures, support materials, course notes and other information are all delivered online. Students then have the opportunity to review posted information on their own time and at their own speed. Because the instructor’s presentation or lecture has already been delivered online, classroom sessions are often used for real-time work sessions, class-wide discussions, or other activities designed to support student progress. The idea is to introduce and reinforce the idea of student-centered learning wherein learners can handle course content and the learning experience itself, in a fully individualized way. More specifically, a blended learning or “flipped classroom” environment requires students to watch lectures and classroom sessions online at home and do homework while they are in class.

 

IS BLENDED LEARNING JUST A FAD?

Blended Learning is praised by some educators as a positive and long-term change in how K-12 and secondary education is delivered. By moving the more passive task of daily information delivery via classroom sessions to an online location, classroom time can be effectively used as an opportunity for interaction between students and teachers.

Even though the blended approach to learning includes the ideas of “hybrid learning,” “mixed learning,” “combined resource teaching,” or “the flipped classroom,” and no one-size-fits-all definition is readily available, the trend is significant on a large scale. An October 2009 article published in “The Journal; Transforming Education Through Technology,” revealed that more than 2 million pre-K-12 students were taking some form of online schooling at press time – including those students attending a virtual school for all their classes or just taking one or more courses via the Internet. But, according to Sam S. Adkins, Chief Research Officer for Ambient Insight, “this situation will change somewhat by 2014, at which time,” he predicted, “the number of students taking all of their courses in physical classrooms will drop to 40.49 million, while 3.78 million will take all of their classes online, and 6.68 million will take some of their classes online.”

Lesson learned: Blended learning is likely not a fad.

 

HOW DOES BLENDED LEARNING WORK?

The e-learning technique known as “blended learning” is a bigger new idea than just installing a few computers in a classroom. The idea is basically a real and fundamental change in the way educators look at the big-picture learning experience. Many educators look at blended learning as including three major elements:

  • Student-attended classroom sessions that include educational support activities led by a trained teacher, instructor of facilitator;
  • Online support materials often including lectures or presentations by the same teacher, instructor or facilitator; and
  • Planned and structured independent study sessions based on material included in the online lecture or presentation.

Rather than depending on the traditional model of in-class information delivery through lectures and presentations, the same information is videotaped in advance so students can listen to the material on their own time. Classroom time is then used for assist students in applying the information they have just acquired online to solving problems or working through education-related a tasks.

IS BLENDING LEARNING A SUCCESS?

The real strength of blended learning is that it has the potential to change formal learning from a model focusing on passive delivery of information to a real opportunity for students to define their own learning pace; create flexible learning schedules; and participate in a more interesting, interactive learning environment. Using this model, student success depends on the commitment and training of individual teachers in the blended learning concept; and the real need for students to have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them using the new approach.

SUMMARY

Blended learning is becoming more common, and as the idea progresses, is showing more promise as an accepted teaching model that is creating students who are increasingly excited about their educational goals. The incorporation of blended learning techniques into the classroom model has been shown to not only improve access to learning, but seems to improve a student’s overall attitude towards education through an independent and collaborative learning experience geared towards long-term success.

Global Student Network would be happy to help you with your blended learning needs.