The rise of technologies and their applications in every aspect of the life of society increased massively. In the vast majority of cases, for the best.
Education is one of the industries that is altered by the technology the hard way. MOOCs (like Coursera), E-Learning apps of all kinds have come there to replace boring textbooks.
In this article, courtesy of Belitsoft (an eLearning development company) we will try to explore the definition of blended learning, study its models and also predict the way it is going to develop in the future.
Blended Learning Now - Definition
There is no single definition of the term ‘blended learning’. Nor there is a universal agreement in the educational field about it.
The terms “mixed” or “hybrid” learning in most cases are interchangeable and describe the same learning trend.
In simple words, it is “the particular forms of teaching with technology”. The older these definition are dated, the more words to describe the trend. Speaking of technology, Belitsoft is the company that produces all kinds of E-learning solutions.
Back in 2000, it was only 45,000 K-12 students who took the online course at least once. Ten years later, almost one-third of all the students (32%, 3 million) in the US have taken at least one online course with numbers closing to 505 of all the students in 2019
According to edglossary.com,
“The term blended learning is generally applied to the practice of using both online and in-person learning experiences when teaching students”
So blended learning is closely interlinked with the following three things:
- Partly learning takes place online and the student has some control over their learning path and pace of consuming the content
- Partly learning happens in an instructor-led classroom
- Online and in-person learning integrate, creating a nice learning environment.
Things that define blended learning and give a more in-depth look into it are described in the next chapter of the article.
For now, we should plant the seed in your mind that blended learning is not a complete online course broadcast on the internet. It is the combination of in-person and online elements that operate together to create a more developed learning experience.
The Models of Blended Learning
As there is no strict definition of the term blended learning, there are multiple models of the trend in action and various sources state different quantity of them.
We take the book Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools by Michael B. Horn and Heather Stacker as one of the foundations describing all the models.
According to these experts, there are currently four models of blended learning.
- Rotation model
- Flex model
- A la carte model
- Enriched Virtual model
Let’s have a more detailed look at all of them.
- Rotation Model of Blended Learning
This is one of the most common models in blended learning. Students within a single class rotate through stations on a fixed schedule (or at the teacher’s discretion), where at least one of the stations is an online learning station.
The most commonly applied in elementary schools. Most of the learning takes place on a physical campus.
The classic example of the Rotation Model in practice is the Flipped Classroom.
A flipped classroom is the one where students are introduced to content at home, and practice working through it at school.
Rotation model, in turn, includes four different varieties:
- Station rotation
- Lab rotation
- Flipped Classroom
- Individual Rotation
- Flex Model of Blended Learning
The flex model allows students having fluid schedules among learning activities based on their needs. Online learning is key in this model. The online presence role for it is bigger in comparison with the rotation model, for instance.
Teachers are able to assist students and support them.
The studying takes place on a flexible, as-needed basis while students work through course curriculum and content. This model can give students a high degree of control over their learning.
- A La Carte Model of Blended Learning
The A La Carte model allows students to take an online course with an online tutor as a help for their face-to-face courses. It makes student’s schedule way more flexible in comparison with traditional forms of learning.
A La Carte courses are great when school lacks the opportunity to provide its’ students with certain learning opportunities (e.g. elective courses of an advanced placement).
Also, the tutor is able to expand the range of study resources that learners may choose from. That contributes to boosting the motivation and personalizes the learning path in the end.
Thanks to the system, students can take a few self-study courses while preparing for their state exams or working on credit recovery. It saves time and money spent on commuting.
Implementing the A-La-Carte Model can be quite a challenging task for tutors. Online courses creation requires technical skills and some sort of e-learning background. However, creating existing high-quality online courses that fit the studying course.
- Enriched Virtual Model of Blended Learning
The Enriched Virtual model is an alternative to a full-time online school that allows students to complete the majority of coursework online at home or outside of school but attend school for required face-to-face learning sessions with a teacher.
Unlike the Flipped Classroom, Enriched Virtual programs usually don’t require daily school attendance. In rare cases, some courses require twice-weekly attendance or something of that kind.
What To Expect from Blended Learning (Summary)
Well, as the stats show us, blended learning becomes more and more popular and gets wider acclaim in the K-12 sector and among different companies.
While people are not yet ready to fully turn to E-Learning due to the lack of trust, limitation of technology and other reasons, blended learning is definitely a step towards progress.
However, it is not about the simple useless combination of online courses with traditional education.
The approach is not that simple. Among the obstacles of blended learning are high development costs and under-equipped classes in the K-12 sector.
During the latest 20 years, it’s been a great improvement as now over half of the K-12 students in the US have taken at least one online course. This numbers will continue to improve according to the industry experts.