What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is an instructional approach that combines online technology with the more traditional, face-to-face, in-class learning environment. The goal is to enhance students' learning experiences and improve their achievements and outcomes. Advantages include accessibility, scalability, and increased individualized attention from the teacher. It's a natural step for educators to take in the face of our world's increasing use of technology. And it's a critical approach to focus on during professional development. Here's why.
It's the Future
The purpose of professional development is to help teachers keep up to date with emerging trends in education in order to serve their students more effectively. One of the most relevant changes currently affecting the teaching world is the integration of technology in the classroom. At this point, to avoid doing so is to deny the reality of our world. Technology is transforming every industry and profession, and education is no different. Teachers who don't get on board will, frankly, fall behind, and their students will suffer as a result.
Blended learning shouldn't be a focus in professional development just because it's the next logical step: it's also effective. One 2018 study indicated that students in blended learning environments:
- Achieved better grades
- Experienced less anxiety
- Were less likely to drop out
A 2016 report revealed that students exposed to blended learning received better test scores. And a third study from 2015 showed that students self-reported learning more effectively in a blended learning environment.
These conclusions make sense. Blended learning:
- Caters to different learning styles
- Allows students to work at their own pace
- Is much more flexible than traditional learning models in which students receive information only from the teacher, with paper homework used to reinforce concepts
It's What Students Want
Last, but not least, blended learning should be at the top of the professional development agenda because it's what students want. Today's children have lived in a technology-based world for their entire lives. That's their native language. They process information faster on a screen, crave the convenience of a user-friendly interface, and are used to learning from videos or short digital texts.
Blended learning meets students halfway using the tools they're already used to working with to teach them K-12 material. They'll learn the same material, just in a way they understand best. For example: imagine you're multilingual, but English is your first language and the one you use in the classroom. Would you continue to teach your class in English if every one of your students spoke Chinese or French or Spanish better? The natural response is ''no''; you would teach them in the language in which they're most fluent. It's just a matter of improving your skills in the other language - and that's where professional development comes into play.
Blended learning is the way to go. Now it's just a matter of including and prioritizing it in professional development.
Access Study.com's blended learning guide to learn more about bringing blended learning into the classroom.