What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is the combination of different learning techniques.
In the standard educational model, blended learning often refers to the use of laboratory equipment or computers to complement the class sessions and strengthen the teaching process through practice and the application of theories learned in class.
In the world of eLearning, blended learning refers to the complementary use of eLearning in the standard education model, due to the benefits it offers on a broad scale, to name a few, self-paced learning, testing and quizzing, monitoring and feedback.
Let’s look at how Blended Learning makes the experience of a user better!
1) Learner is more engaged using a variety of content types
The reason why books for younger ages are illustrated is rather simple. A child is much less likely to sit down and read pages and pages filled with text. Firstly, we take into account the comprehension level of the learner, and realize that pictures will make the material easier to understand. Second, in the instances that the material presented is easy to grasp, the illustration is oftentimes a good way to help the learner sink-in the information faster. Another good way to have that effect is presenting the learner with practical examples of the theory taught.
Therefore, blended learning, using eLearning as the complementary method to enhance the traditional education model, uses a plethora of different material types, namely video, audio, visually enhanced presentations, helps keep learners engaged and makes sure that all material is easily understood and learned, something that is not always the case in the fast-paced environment of a physical classroom.
2) Different learner, different learning style
You might think “and how am I supposed to account for everyone?!”. The answer, as in most cases, is that you can’t always make everyone happy, but diversifying your teaching methods is a good way to approach the issues that arise when you offer an online course to a possibly large amount of individuals from all over. This could not be more true of the traditional education model as well, whether we are talking about a classroom full of students, or a business training environment.
Blended learning complements both environments and helps all types of learners in various ways:
a) Time is always an issue in a physical class environment; you will either be restricted by a one or two hour limit and getting all the information across is sometimes a trivial task. Especially when facilitating understanding is of essence. Blended learning allows for students/trainees to take information home and have their own time to assimilate it without the pressure of keeping up with the rest of the class.
b) Quizzing and Testing online allows for professors/trainers to have more time to educate in the physical classroom environment. It earns the educator extra time to facilitate contact with students and answer questions, address concerns and make sure that everyone’s issues are being resolved.
3) Instructor has the ability to assess learner trends and act accordingly
As advanced as technology may be, some things are just not doable in the physical education environment, and that’s where the benefits of blended learning shine.
Two of the many reasons that eLearning is very appealing to instructors is that it allows updating and tweaking of material on-the-fly. An awesome feature that some Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer is Reporting. Reporting is not only good because it allows for a graphical representation of information found within the LMS, but it’s also a good way to have a quick overview of what learners are doing, how far they’ve progressed, how they score in different kinds of testing methods, amongst others features.
By trying out different methods of testing, quizzing, and even different types of material, a professor has the ability to tweak around how much emphasis he/she gives on traditional types of material in eLearning (such as text and video), and how much he/she wants to diversify using other types of material or testing methods.
4) Improved Feedback
Blended learning greatly affects the way feedback is facilitated. To begin on my first point, by testing and quizzing online, as mentioned above, the professor/trainer has the time to arrive to conclusions about the learners’ performance without wasting valuable time from class. Feedback is something that can be prepared from home, and harvesting all the benefits that blended learning offers, provide that feedback to learners in the physical environment, simply using information the Learning Management System offers, in the forms of reports or automatically generated feedback.
Feedback is also very important for learners; it’s the primary indication of performance and progress, which means that it’s important to allow the professor/trainer to have both the right tools and appropriate time to prepare feedback so as to assess and attempt to improve learners’ performance as much as possible, spending as little time as possible.
5) It can make learning fun!
I can’t stress this enough! Learning is not a one-sided all-serious process. You simply cannot deny that adding an entertaining twist to the material is more likely to increase the engagement level of the learners. By fun I don’t mean that learning should be set aside, but the combination of the two, through the usage of different and more interactive material (like presentations that are not just pages filled with bullet-points) but also through the usage of what we call “Gamification” (check out this article by Roberta Gogos, it’s worth reading to get some insight). The end-of-day result should be to allow the learners to have access to information from anywhere, effectively empowering them to take learning into their own hands, create their own schedule, and enjoy the process by doing something interesting.
Let us know how you integrate different educational methods with your LMS or other educational setting.
How does fun mingle with learning, and it is eLearning the appropriate medium to deliver both effectively?