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Challenges of Blended Learning Models

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Blending learning models offer many advantages and benefits to students and teachers yet present significant challenges as well. This lesson will discuss the challenges of blended learning models.

What is a Blended Learning Model?

Have you ever taken a virtual or online class? Most online classes offer the convenience of completing assignments from your home on your own schedule. However, some students lack direction in online classes because they don't really connect with the teacher or the other students.

Now compare online learning to a traditional classroom where everything takes place in a live class. Students must attend class on certain days and times that can be less convenient, but they also get the benefit of personal attention and face-to-face interaction with others. Imagine if we took the benefits of online learning along with the advantages of the traditional classroom and mixed them together to create a new type of learning environment? Blended learning does just that!

Blended learning is a teaching method that combines traditional face-to-face instruction with technology. Blended learning models extend the reach of the instruction beyond the classroom through the use of digital resources. For example, a class taught in a blended format might ask students to play an online game to reinforce learning following the introduction of a new topic in class. Another example of blended learning might require that students view an introductory video prior to the introduction of the concept in class. Both examples utilize technology and traditional instruction to increase learning.

Now that we understand what blended learning is, let's take a moment to examine some challenges associated with its use as an instructional method.

Challenges of Blended Learning Models

At first glance, blended learning sounds like a dream for students and teachers. Theoretically, class time is reduced, and the process of instruction is streamlined through the use of technology. Who wouldn't want that? However, blended learning presents unique challenges that can become barriers to learning. Let's take a closer look at some of these challenges now.

Technology is Expensive

Many traditional classrooms have a computer present for student and teacher use. Some traditional classrooms have even more than one computer, depending on school budgets. Blended learning usually requires that all students and teachers have a computer, tablet, or laptop. Needless to say, this is expensive to implement and maintain!

Inadequate Training

We mentioned the expense related to providing adequate technology for the implementation of blended learning in schools. Training is important as well yet very expensive to take on, thus may be overlooked. For example, blended learning assumes that students and teachers have a reasonable level of competence with computers. Anyone who does not have adequate computer skills will more than likely struggle with blended learning models. Also, teachers who have never taught in an online capacity may be lacking in the skills necessary to effectively do so. In short, inadequate training of teachers and students can quickly derail a blended learning model.

Technological Issues

Think about the last time you experienced computer issues. Maybe you lost data. Perhaps your internet was down. Either way, these types of problems are not uncommon when dealing with technology. This presents a significant problem for blended learning models that rely on remote servers for data storage, internet providers for access to class resources, and devices such as computers, tablets, smart phones, and laptops for instruction and the completion of assignments. An internet outage can stop a blended learning model in its tracks. A problem with a server can wipe out important data and records for teachers and students. A computer malfunction can prevent a student from completing assignments. All of these technological issues are important considerations when discussing the challenges presented by blended learning models.

Adapting Content for Blended Learning

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