Blended Learning

1 January 2017

This model is realized as a combination of a face-to-face environment and online learning, using a proprietary learning management system (LMS) named adaptive hypermedia courseware (AHyCo). AHyCo is based on adaptive hypermedia and in addition to supporting learning and testing, introduces completely new constructivist and cognitivist elements to education. By supporting collaborative and project-oriented activities AHyCo promotes students’ motivation for learning and establishes learning as an active and interactive process.

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Blended learning refers to a mixing of different learning environments. It combines traditional face-to-face classroom methods with more modern computer-mediated activities. According to its proponents, the strategy creates a more integrated approach for both instructors and learners. Formerly, technology-based materials played a supporting role to face-to-face instruction. Through a blended learning approach, technology will be more important. For example, consider a traditional class meeting schedule. Say that the course would normally meet MWF, from 1-3 PM.

If the institution were to apply a blended learning approach, the course may change so that it meets once per week instead of the usual three-session format. Learning activities that otherwise would have taken place during classroom time can be moved online. In other circumstances, a greater reliance on technology within the classroom may occur. Activities may be structured around access to online resources, communication via social media or interaction with distance learners in other classrooms or other learning environments. There are many different approaches to blended learning.

It can take on many shapes or forms, depending on the teachers and learners involved. As of now, there is no consensus on a single agreed-upon definition for blended learning. The terms “blended,” “hybrid,” and “mixed-mode” are used interchangeably in current research literature. Blended Learning has been around for many years, but the name has changed as the uses and recognition have increased. Many people may be using a form of blended learning in lessons and teaching, but may not realize it or be able to give it an actual name. Blended learning is something that is used in the world of education as well as the world of business.

Blended learning is not a new concept, but may be a new term to many users. Below is a list of just a few of the more common, but older, names of blended learning. “You may hear blended learning described as “integrative learning”, “hybrid learning”, “multi-method learning” (Node, 2001). “The term “blended learning” is being used with increasing frequency in both academic and corporate circles. In 2003, the American Society for Training and Development identified blended learning as one of the top ten trends to emerge in the knowledge delivery industry” (cited in Rooney, 2003) (Graham, 2004).

Blended learning began as online learning when poor rural school districts had to rely on online learning for students who were taking higher level classes that they could not afford a teacher to come in and teach. [2] [edit] Mixing synchronous learning and asynchronous learning A blended learning approach can combine face-to-face facilitation with computer-mediated instruction and/or discovery learning opportunities. It also applies science or IT activities with the assistance of educational technologies using computer, cellular or Smartphones, Satellite television channels, videoconferencing and other emerging electronic media.

Learners and teachers work together to improve the quality of learning and teaching, the ultimate aim of blended learning being to provide realistic practical opportunities for learners and teachers to make learning independent, useful, sustainable and ever growing. [3] [edit] Considerations in blended learning Whether a course should be proposed as a face-to-face interaction, an online course or a blended course depends on the analysis of the competencies at stake, the nature and location of the audience, and the resources available. Depending on the cross-analysis of these 3 parameters, the course designer will opt for one of the 3 options.

In his course scenario he/she will then have to decide which parts are online, which parts are offline. A basic example of this is a course of English as a second language where the instructor reaches the conclusion that all audio-based activities (listening comprehension, oral expression) will take place in the classroom where all text-based activities will take place online (reading comprehension, essays writing). [4] Blended learning increases the options for greater quality and quantity of human interaction in a learning environment.

Blended learning offers learners the opportunity “to be both together and apart. ”[5] A community of learners can interact at any time and anywhere because of the benefits that computer-mediated educational tools provide. Blended learning provides a ‘good’ mix of technologies and interactions, resulting in a socially supported, constructive, learning experience; this is especially significant given the profound effect that it could have on distance learning. In a perfect world, an ideal harmony can be created between face to face and online learning. Blended learning strives to do that.

In this scenario, the benefits of both approaches would be utilized, without incurring the negative side effects of an unbalanced approach. The challenge, though, is that it is difficult to come up with a perfect prescription for how to establish a course that will be effectively blended. The needs of every course is different, as are the needs of learners in a given course. There isn’t a way to set up a perfect formula that says “use 10% internet, 20% face to face interaction and 2 shakes of hugs and a lot of high fives” and then you’ll have a perfect learning environment.

While it is easiest for most of us to picture a blended learning environment in a traditional classroom environment with a sprinkle of computers thrown in, there are other ways to create blended learning environments. Researchers Russell T. Osguthorpe and Charles R. Graham from Brigham Young University suggest that there are at least three environments that are effective blended learning environments: 1. online and face-to-face learning activities, 2. online and face-to-face students, and 3. online and face-to-face instructors. [6] There are a variety of motivations for utilizing blended learning environments.

Obviously, educators want to maximize the benefits that any approach would offer learners. The authors described six goals that are applicable to the types of learning environments that they described: pedagogical richness, access to knowledge, social interaction, personal agency, cost effectiveness, and ease of revision. In regards to the cost effectiveness of blended learning, “Bleak budgets coupled with looming teacher shortages amidst an increasing demand for results are accelerating the growth of online learning into blended environments. (Horn and Staker) Blended e-learning refers to the learning which takes place through a combination of face-to-face facilitated learning, e-learning and self-study.

Some of the advantages of blended learning include; cost effectiveness for both the accrediting learning institution and the learner, accessibility to a post secondary education, and flexibility in scheduling and timetabling of course work. Some of the disadvantages may include; computer and internet access, limited knowledge in the use of technology, study skills, problems which are similar to those who would be entering a physical learning institution.

It should also be noted that some authors talk about “hybrid learning” (this seems to be more common in Northern American sources) or “mixed learning”. However, all of these concepts broadly refer to the integration (the “blending”) of e-learning tools and techniques. Blended learning is on the rise in higher education. 93% of higher ed instructors and admin say they are using blended learning strategies somewhere in their institution.

One clear advantage of blended learning in education is its connection with differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction involves “custom-designing instruction based on student needs. ”[17] In differentiated instruction, educators look at students’ learning styles, interests, and abilities. Once these factors have been determined, educators decide which curriculum content, learning activities, products, and learning environments will best serve those individual students’ needs. Blended learning can fit into a number of these areas.

By using blended learning, educators are definitely altering the learning environment when students work collaboratively in learning communities online, for example. Teachers could also add relevant curriculum content that would be unavailable or difficult to comprehend outside of the internet. Learning activities and products can also be changed to use technologies in a classroom that uses blended learning. In a study by Dean and associates, research showed that providing several online options in addition to traditional classroom training actually increased what students learned. 2001)

Another study showed that student interaction and satisfaction improved, along with students learning more, in courses that incorporated blended learning. (DeLacey and Leonard, 2002) Another advantage of blended learning is pacing and attendance. In most blended learning classrooms, there is the ability to study whenever the student chooses to do so. If a student is absent, she/he may view some of the missed materials at the same time that the rest of the class does, even though the student cannot be physically in the classroom.

This helps students stay on track and not fall behind, which is especially helpful for students with prolonged sicknesses or injuries that prevent them from attending school. These “self-study modules” also allow learners to review certain content at any time for help in understanding a concept or to work ahead for those students who learn at a faster pace. (Alvarez, 2005) Because of the ability of students to self-pace, there is a higher completion rate for students in blended learning classrooms than to those in strictly e-learning situations. Flavin, 2001)

This self-pacing allows for the engagement of every learner in the classroom at any given time. Students also see that the learning involved becomes a process, not individual learning events. This revelation allows for an increased application of the learning done in the classroom. (Flavin, 2001) [edit] Blended Learning in K-12 Settings Blended learning, whether it is in the form of online programs or bringing other technologies into a physical setting, can serve a variety of purposes for students in K-12 settings.

Although research and information about blended learning in colleges and universities is widely available, the same is not true for K-12 settings. Recently this has begun to change, as groups including Innosight Institute and the Charter School Growth Fund have done work to chronicle the existence of different blended learning models and capture their results, as well as to define what makes blended learning different in K-12 settings from higher education–given the distinctly different settings and needs–and the different models in evolution.

The first comprehensive study published in May 2011, titled “The rise of blended learning: Profiles of emerging models,” profiled 40 different blended-learning models at different stages of their life cycle and gave a variety of data about the different tools being used, policies impeding blended learning’s productive growth, and definitions as well as rationales for those definitions. The basic definition that Innosight Institute has used to define blended learning is from the perspective of the student–not the school–which is in keeping with the non-profit think tank’s focus on transforming education into a student-centric system.

The definition is the following: Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick- and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace. Innosight Institute captured six different models it saw in existence to this point of how students are experiencing blended learning. Those six models are: Face-to-Face Driver, Rotation, Flex, Online Lab, Self-Blend, and Online Driver.

Some of the models that are capturing the imagination of those focused on next-generation schooling powered by digital learning include Carpe Diem Collegiate High School and Middle School, Rocketship Education, and KIPP Empower. The remainder of this section discusses the implementation of blended learning in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms based on the older research prior to Innosight Institute’s report. Online programs, for example, serve students whose needs are not met at their physical school.

Many programs seek to serve students with limited educational opportunities [18]. A lack of classes, conflicts with scheduling, un- or under-qualified teachers, and a need to make up credits or to obtain them in certain disciplines may also drive the need for online courses. Under the federal mandates of No Child Left Behind, teachers are required to be highly qualified in the content area they teach. At smaller schools and in rural areas, this is not always possible. Thus, access to highly qualified teachers may only exist through an online forum.

What is Blended? A blended learning approach combines face to face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities to form an integrated instructional approach. In the past, digital materials have served in a supplementary role, helping to support face to face instruction. For example, a blended approach to a traditional, face to face course might mean that the class meets once per week instead of the usual three-session format. Learning activities that otherwise would have taken place during classroom time can be moved online.

As of now, there is no consensus on a single agree-upon definition for blended learning. The Resources page contains cites to several articles that provide definitions. In addition, the terms “blended,” “hybrid,” and “mixed-mode” are used interchangeably in current research literature. For the purposes of the Blended Learning Initiative at Penn State, the term “blended” is preferred. Why Blend? The goal of a blended approach is to join the best aspects of both face to face and online instruction. Classroom time can be used to engage students in advanced interactive experiences.

Meanwhile, the online portion of the course can provide students with multimedia-rich content at any time of day, anywhere the student has internet access, from Penn State computer labs, the coffee shop, or the students’ homes. This allows for an increase in scheduling flexibility for students. In addition to flexibility and convenience for students, according to research shared at the ALN Conference Workshop on Blended Learning & Higher Education November 17, 2005, there is early evidence that a blended instructional approach can result in learning outcome gains and increased enrollment retention (http://www. ic. edu/depts/oee/blended/workshop/bibliography. pdf).

Blended learning is a student-centered approach to creating a learning experience whereby the learner interacts with other students, with the instructor, and with content through thoughtful integration of online and face-to-face environments. 1 A well-designed blended learning experience thoughtfully organizes content, support materials, and activities via synchronous and asynchronous learning events, all of which are delivered in a variety of modes ranging from traditional lecture to online tutorials.

Communication and collaboration are necessary functions of a blended approach. Because formative assessment is embedded throughout learning events, the learner assumes responsibility for his or her learning. In contrast to teacher-centered, rote-learning approaches, blended learning environments provide multiple ways to access content and to demonstrate mastery. As a result, they lend themselves more readily to differentiation of content and process.

A blended approach also gives the learner the opportunity to be more responsible for his or her learning, which creates a learning situation that may be more meaningful on an individual level. Because the learner comes to construct knowledge through personal effort, she or he is more likely to demonstrate understanding beyond rote memorization, and to transfer what she or he has learned to new settings. 2 History of blended learning The concept of blended learning, in which multiple learning environments and activities are combined, has existed for quite some time.

Long before the advent of computers and social networks, teachers created blended learning experiences using simple technologies like paper and pencil. Educators have always crafted learning experiences that incorporate a variety of activities in different environments for the purpose of reinforcing learning material. For example, consider the concept of the apprenticeship. Prior to the hands-on experience, the apprentice studied the work of the master through observation, conversation, and possibly through reading.

Contemporary definitions of blended learning take into account the role that technology can play. Technologies like CD-ROM and the internet have made it possible to create new environments for learning, new opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, and new modes of delivery for learning materials, self-directed guides, and tutorials. More recently, blended learning figures prominently in conversations about online learning. In this context, blended learning represents a convergence of online and face-to-face experiences.

Interactions across both environments are mitigated by space, time, fidelity, and personal interaction. 3 While some research indicates that blended learning solutions have a positive impact on student learning, most research has taken place in higher education and adult learning, so care should be taken when extending this research to the K-12 arena. 4 The aim is to encourage students to be active learners by using online technologies to enable or support learning activities that continue outside of the lecture hall, classroom or lab, and encourage students to arrive in class well prepared.

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