When the concept of blended learning first emerged, 20-odd years ago, it was a relatively straightforward idea. In a nutshell, it referred to the fusion of traditional learning, with the teacher holding court at the front of a physical classroom, with some online teaching time. Simple, or so it seemed…
Of course, technology has transformed dramatically in the intervening two decades, and along with it, the very nature of blended learning. With time and progress, it has evolved into so much more than simply a hybrid method of contact between teachers and students.
Learning that is student-focused
At its core, blended learning is conceptually all about putting students front and center, and allowing them to take control over their education and decide when, where, what and how they learn. A daunting notion, perhaps, for more traditional educators. But surely a thrilling opportunity for teachers who recognize that this is the way to prepare students for success in a world that rewards agile thinking and a high level of technology-use skills.
Rather than just passively sitting back and receiving information that they will hopefully retain, students in a blended learning environment are given the opportunity to shape and transform their own education. They are given a voice and choice, two vital elements that are starkly absent from more traditional and less personalized educational models.
Blended not solo
But this doesn’t mean their educational journey is undertaken solo, quite the contrary. Strong support and guidance from educators is absolutely essential to the success of blended learning, and passionate, engaged, experienced teaching is still essential. It’s just that, for the first time in history, students are being given the chance to be part of the process of shaping their education, developing an optimal working environment and monitoring the pace of their learning.
Think about design
To embrace blended learning, you need to have the right tools to build and grow a successful blended learning environment. It might take a little trial and error, but you need to find the version that works best for you – and, even more importantly, your students.
There are many ways to design the classroom, create content and communicate with students and it helps to explore the options and be prepared to make changes. This way, you will be able to create an optimal environment for engagement and growth, especially for students who find it more difficult to focus and connect.