What is blended learning?
What exactly is blended learning? Blended learning must combine the ‘brick and mortar’-that is, a traditional physical classroom with 4 walls and a teacher- and a virtual online classroom. To qualify as blended learning, both elements must be present. A purely online education is not considered blended learning.
Why and how did blended learning come about? The reality of education throughout California, and many other states, is the ongoing budget crisis, overloaded classrooms, overwhelmed teachers and frustrated students. One solution to a lack of funds is to allow some students in some classes do more work on a computer, either at home or at school with a supervising teacher. Students in college (we offer college consulting) will be more likely to graduate on time and students in high school may have quicker access to information regarding their coursework.
Aspects of blended learning
As with any new model of education, there are plusses and minuses. There are many positive aspects to blended learning; let’s look at a few:
- A student can move through their courses at a speed of their comfort. They are no longer bored while waiting for other students to catch up and they are no longer nervous and frustrated feeling left behind while their peers progress faster.
- Students can be connected across the globe. With a greater integration of Internet technology, students can connect with events, people, and information from around the world.
- Students will continue to have the chance to have ‘face time’ with a real teacher and other students to ask questions, gather information and get the opinions of others.
There are also some possible negative outcomes, the degree of which is yet to be determined. For example:
- Children will have less time to learn appropriate social skills. Computers don’t disagree with us or ask us to problem solve of the spot. With less social interaction, children have less opportunity to learn how others feel or react and they will have less focus on empathy, which is an important skill to thrive in the adult workplace as well as life in general.
- Children who are feeling lost will have to wait longer to receive help from a teacher or professor. If students only meet once or twice a week with educators, they will be less likely to get help on the spot, which could potentially slow them down.
- Students who do not have a high degree of self direction may be less successful. Online learning requires a higher degree of self discipline and so younger children, who have not yet learned time management, may have difficulty staying on a schedule. In a brick and mortar classroom, a teacher is always present to keep students on task. Blended learning may or may not incorporate this assistance.
As with anything new, there are usually a few things that need to be worked out. Some students may need to always have a teacher present in the background, or in the foreground. Other students may turn out to be very self lead and only require a traditional educator to help them understand concepts 2-3 days a week. Blended learning is a fascinating concept overall.
How can you make blended learning work for your child?
- They need to learn about technology and become computer literate at an early age. Learning to use a computer has become just as important as learning to ride a bike or learning to look both ways when crossing the street.
- They need to be able to communicate on their own which topics they understand and which topics they don’t understand. As education becomes more self lead, students who thrive will learn to speak up very quickly when a concept becomes unfamiliar.
- They need to learn about deductive logic. For example: The moon comes out at night. The moon is out, so it must be night.
- They will need to recognize a good source from a bad one. When the Internet is the primary source of information gathering, it is important to recognize a reputable source from an unsupported one.
- They will need to become highly skilled at self management. If students start meeting with their teacher on Tues/Thurs they need to be able to finish their online assignments with enough time to spare to ask questions and receive an answer back.
- They need to have additional socialization time outside of school. Whether teachers like it or not, children socialize in the classroom. When they learn to do it appropriately, as with a group project or at break time, it can be a very good thing. If more time is spend at a computer, either at home or in the classroom, there should be a proportionate amount of time for structured socializing outside of the classroom. This could take place in a formal recreation class, arts and crafts, sports, etc… Free play, however, does not adequately take the place of structured socializing.
- Students need to have immediate rewards for completing work. The star chart will become a thing of the past, so it is important for children in younger grades to have some sort of small reward to be used as positive reinforcement.
- Students should be able to learn outside of the classroom-virtual or real-either in the form of a field trip or general everyday learning.
All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at [email protected] for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.
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