Taking Blended Learning Beyond the PDF

Contributed By

Cirrelia Thaxton

Contributing Writer and Tutor

Taking Blended Learning Beyond the PDF

Posted in Evolving Ed | January 10, 2017

Have you ever wondered why certain teaching strategies work and others don't? Educators need to understand how to make good instructional choices for the benefit of their students, and understanding how to blend learning is one way to achieve this goal.

Blended Learning is Not Just Digital

When you infuse face-to-face instruction with technology-based tools, you get the chance to blend learning that engages and inspires. Yet, the success of instruction depends on more than adding technology or digitizing text curriculum into a PDF.

For instance, some primary, secondary, and tertiary educators who desire efficiency find that teaching blended lessons must be carefully coordinated with students' needs and abilities. These educators, administrators, and stakeholders attempt to transform education into extraordinary experiences that challenge students to think critically and excel academically.

So how can you make everyday learning opportunities more meaningful? By incorporating blended learning strategies that go beyond just using technology to conduct learning the same way you did without it, it is possible to increase student engagement, save yourself tons of time, and give students opportunities to direct their own learning paths.

With teachers' guidance, students can control time, place, and pace of blended learning activities while they acquire 21st Century skills, like initiative, collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and productivity. Thus, blended learning prepares students for the future as it hones their authentic abilities and goes further than making text-based activities more digital.

Sometimes known as "bricks and clicks," or the fusion of physical and digital instruction, blended learning stimulates students of all ages. If you join students with dedicated educators and stakeholders in these active learning environments, you will discover that the following definitive benefits result:

  • Development of technological skills
  • Increase in information literacy
  • Improvement in media literacy
  • Increase in knowledge of web-based applications.

Supporting Students With Flexible Strategy

Since the goal of this strategy is to improve the overall learning experience, blended learning takes exciting, new avenues to reach students. No longer are students passively absorbing information in traditional lecture formats. Now, students are more self-directed and accountable for their own productivity in the classroom.

With this potential in mind, educators can tailor-make lesson plans that leverage students' capabilities. By using technology-enhanced curricular plans, teachers can bolster instructional delivery that supports the different learning styles of students.

Incorporating a learning management system (LMS) at all levels of education allows teachers and their students to embrace technological interfaces, retrieve class materials at any time, and enhance the opportunities for interacting with that material in creative ways. This allows instructors to go beyond the PDF and incorporate a variety of tools—such as computers, iPads, and smartphones—enabling students to show their learning via written, visual, and audio means.

Suddenly lessons can incorporate video conferences made by the instructor with Wikis and slideshows as supplementary resources and a check for understanding quiz at the end, providing instant feedback for both students and teachers. This is the flexible nature of blended learning at its best.

Improving Instruction with Powerful Principles

Great blended learning excites the learner, propelling him or her to seek creative solutions to academic problems. Naturally, you can expect that in these situations, students gain communication and critical thinking skills.

You can also deduce that blended learning perfects the principle of hybridization, which is the joining of two dissimilar parts to create a third result. By bridging the gap between face-to-face and online components, educators can increase student achievement.

Next, according to the principle of the 3 E's, blended learning environments must apply three fundamental concepts to be improve learning. These three are engaging learners, enhancing lessons, and increasing efficiency.

Engaging learners means making sure that they have strong connections with teachers, the curriculum, and each other. Enhancing lessons requires that educators increase opportunities for interaction and knowledge acquisition. Increasing efficiency over time depends on an instructor's ability to handle the mechanics of the teaching process.

By bringing the 3 E's together, you generate blending learning programs that not only teach your students what to learn but also how to learn.

With the applications of the 3 E's, educators will discover these five major advantages:

  • Meeting the student where he or she is and understanding his or her needs
  • Giving the student time flexibility to control the pace of his or her learning
  • Improving student's learning outcomes for the development of project and time management skills
  • Enhancing teacher and student interaction
  • Establishing an environment of continuous improvement

Increasing Innovation with Practical Takeaways

Once you understand the dynamics of the blended learning model, you can easily plan activities that fortify student engagement. The key is to use the principles of blended learning as a guide for successful instructional delivery that is geared toward the needs of each student.

With the help of your technology, particularly your LMS, you have the ability to apply individualized instruction plans that adjust instructional content for alignment with students' learning styles. For example, offer students opportunities to 'design' their own projects, especially in higher education. For younger students, you can give them options in "Choose your own adventure" assignments.

Similarly, you can make lessons more interactive to challenge students. One technique for this instructional strategy is the use of online videos and even podcasts. In addition, try to include Check for Understanding quizzes throughout lessons. You will find that increasing interactivity of lesson formats both engages students and promotes deeper learning.

Finally, you can flip your lessons, or having your students learn the basics of a lesson outside the classroom, via your LMS or website. This will give you more time during class hours to workshop these concepts, pinpoint which students get it, and further challenge them while working more closely with individual students who need assistance.

To conclude, blended learning is a viable teaching strategy that deserves careful consideration and implementation. With a thoughtful approach and a solid understanding of why you want to pursue this methodology, you and your students will see notable benefits, whether your blending a little or diving in the deep end of a full blended learning program.


 

For a detailed walkthrough of building a great blended learning program using the 3 E's, get our ebook below.

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