Top Three Models of Blended Learning: Examples, Pros, and Cons
Blended learning is emerging as the predominant instructional model of the future. On the one hand, it is increasingly proving to be the most effective way of teaching and learning. On the other, it solves some of the challenges teaching organizations are facing like the lack of facilities and teachers, scheduling conflicts, etc.
Blended learning has different implementation scenarios. Some teachers simply use multimedia presentations during their traditional classes. Others teach fully online with a few face-to-face meetings.
Each scenario has its pros and cons. Knowing them will help you choose the best option for you. In this article we will look at three different blended learning models based on the current most popular methods of instruction: traditional, self-paced (asynchronous), and collaborative web-conferencing synchronous.
Blended Learning in the Traditional Classroom
The main part (about 75%) of the training is delivered in a traditional classroom. The students have access to online platform for self-preparation (e.g. Schoology) and options for additional live online classes or consultations in a web-conferencing virtual classroom (e.g. VEDAMO Virtual Classroom). Usually the asynchronous platform is used for homework, additional study resources, individual tasks and assignments, self-assessment, etc. The synchronous virtual classroom allows for catch-up classes, flexible office hours, connected classrooms, online guest teachers, additional support of students working above or below the average level, etc.
This model of blended learning is suitable for schools and traditional training providers who want to enhance and expand the classroom experience. Online platforms like Schoology and VEDAMO Virtual Classroom add more options and tools for engaging teaching. Moreover, they can optimize the teacher time with flexible office hours and automated daily processes.
Pros and cons of the main delivery method – traditional classroom:
- Direct face-to-face interaction with the teacher and the fellow students
- Group socialization
- More options for hands-on activities
- Better assessment control
- Possibilities for informal communication and community building
- Increased costs - overheads, facilities, logistics and operational costs
- Fixed program, study hours and limited scheduling options
- Limited number of students in a group
- Less options for personalized learning
- Teacher-centered instruction
Blended Learning Which Relies on Self-Paced Online Instruction
The predominant method of instruction is the self-paced (asynchronous) one – up to 80%. To improve the quality of asynchronous training, it can be combined with web-conferencing sessions in a virtual classroom. An excellent solution in this case is the seamless integration of VEDAMO Virtual Classroom with Schoology LMS. The live online interaction would bring collaborative learning possibilities and foster the social presence. The exams, which require higher level of control, can be conducted in a traditional classroom under supervision or in a live virtual classroom session.
This model is mainly used by providers of cost-effective self-study online courses or MOOCs. Usually it is suitable for larger groups of adult learners as it requires high level of self-directed learning skills. It is ideal for students who need more flexibility and independence in their daily schedules.
Pros and cons of the main delivery method – self-paced (asynchronous) instruction:
- Highly cost-effective solution
- Possibility to work with large number of students and reuse the content
- Flexible and personalized learning – the student can select content, time and pace to study with
- More time to reflect on the content
- Learner-centered instruction
- Sense of social isolation which leads to lower motivation and high drop-out rate
- Lower interactivity – limited options for direct interaction between the teacher and students
- Limited options for direct and timely feedback
- Lower control over assessment
- Requires high level of self-regulation
Blended Learning Based on Collaborative Web-Conferencing
The training is delivered mainly through web-conference virtual classroom like VEDAMO. It allows for live online interaction between a distant teacher and students, which is very similar to the traditional classroom experience but is not limited by the participants’ location. As in the first model, the live online teaching can be supplemented by a self-paced learning online platform like Schoology to optimize the use of the teacher time and for additional study materials. Meetings in a traditional classroom are optional for conducting exams under supervision and organizing community building activities.
This model is widely used by online language academies, virtual schools for younger kids, vocational training providers, corporate trainings, etc.
Pros and cons of the main delivery method – collaborative web-conferencing (synchronous) instruction:
- Learning in a highly interactive in safe online environment with many options for collaboration
- Easier group socialization because of the direct live online communication
- Flexible scheduling and study time - more effective use of teacher time and increased student- teacher ratio with better teaching quality
- Cost-effective solution – no facilities, overhead and logistics costs
- Instructor-led and student-centred interaction
- Highly dependent on the proper functioning of the technology used
- Fixed time of the sessions and specific training schedule
- The quality of the training is highly dependent on the skills of the instructor
- The number of participants with video-conference connection is limited by the capabilities of the applied virtual classroom
Blended learning opens up a whole new world of possibilities for teaching organizations and professionals. Now when you know the advantages and drawbacks of the different models, define the learning objectives of your training, investigate your learners’ needs and expectations, assess your resources and choose the right option for you. Mixing the different methods will help you utilize their best elements and keep your learners engaged and motivated.
Want to see it in action? Learn more HERE.
About the author:
Dr. Veronica Racheva is managing VEDAMO’s training program. She graduated from the Doctoral School at the Institute of Education, University of London and has a specialization for a Virtual Teacher from the University of California, Irvine. Currently, she is also a lecturer in Online and Blended Learning at the Sofia University, researcher and author of scientific reports. She is an instructor of teachers how to use VEDAMO virtual classroom.