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The Online Driver Model of Blended Learning Explained

At its simplest, the online driver model of blended learning does away with nearly all of the traditional teaching methods used in classrooms and lecture theatres. Although some courses that primarily use the online driver model of blended learning will include a few elements of face-to-face teaching, this model is most often associated with all of the course content being delivered via digital platforms.

Read on to discover how the online driver model can benefit programs where in-person teaching is difficult, or visit the ViewSonic education solutions page to find out more about the important role technology is playing in the modern classroom. 

The online driver model of blended learning tends to be used for adult education or distance learning, where classroom teaching is either undesirable or impossible. As a blended learning model, it is consequently at the far end of the scale where, perhaps, traditional teaching methods might be regarded at the other. That said, many of the pedagogical techniques that teachers and lecturers have at their disposal in real-world educational settings can be transferred to the online driver model with a little thought. Even better, many of the technologies that enable this to work – both in terms of hardware and educational software – have already been developed to support such learning.

What is the Online Driver Model of Blended Learning?

Most of the learning that takes place within the online driver model is completed online. In most cases where an educational establishment has taken on this delivery method, 100 percent of its teaching will take place online. That said, some course content may be delivered through digital technology without an internet connection. Offline digital resources might include sending DVDs or CD-ROMs to students or even assigning them coursework that involves watching appropriate documentaries or current affairs shows or, in the case of media and journalism students, TV shows and films.

It is important to note that the online driver model makes use of two primary types of online teaching content for students, some of which may be delivered by a teacher, albeit over a live streaming platform, such as Zoom, for instance. This type of synchronous teaching means that an entirely virtual class of students receive the same instructor or teacher-led education, all at the same time. Although live webinars are the most common way to offer this, text-based question and answer sessions following a video presentation or podcast may also be utilized.

In addition to synchronous course content, teachers may also set work that students conduct at their own pace and by finding their own online educational resources. Studying e-courses, reading scholarly journals online or simply collaborating with other students via instant messaging apps all contribute to this part of the online driver model in something that is referred to as asynchronous learning.

More often than not, students will email their coursework to their tutor for evaluation. That said, teachers can also set online quizzes for their students to complete to assess their understanding as they proceed through the course content. Many of the online assessment tools available to education professionals today automate their results, perhaps by marking multiple-choice questions or checking for plagiarism automatically, thereby saving teachers a great deal of time and effort.

Because there are no interpersonal interactions that occur between students and teachers in this form of blended learning, other than in the virtual learning sense, it is unlikely to be appropriate for early years and primary education. Unless there is a specific need for a body of students to work remotely – such as a public healthcare emergency – it is only likely to be deployed in educational settings where students are considered old enough to fend for themselves.

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What are the Benefits of the Online Driver Model?

Because all of the course content can be delivered through digital technologies, the online driver model is ideal when students and teachers cannot be in close contact with one another. This might be the case if the teacher in question cannot travel for health reasons or because they happen to reside on the other side of the world from the students they will teach.

This is a big plus point of the online driver model insofar as it allows educational establishments to take on teaching staff who may be the best qualified in their field even if they live in another part of the country or, perhaps, a different time zone. Equally, it means that places of education can offer their courses to students who do not live near them, potentially augmenting their revenue streams from overseas students, for instance.

This degree of flexibility is what makes the recent take-up of blended learning so remarkable. When educational establishments, such as colleges and universities, adopt blended learning, why would they not go for it and choose the online driver model rather than offering more mixed models? After all, it allows for both synchronous and asynchronous learning while teachers can still personalize their course content to meet the needs of particular students.

How to Implement an Online Driver Model

Although the online driver model of blended learning relies on digital technologies to work, there are fewer set-up costs than other models. This is because colleges do not have to set up computer labs in classrooms, for example. In most cases, students will have to provide an adequate device to be able to access their course content. That said, anything from handheld tablets to super-fast desktops can be used.

Issuing teachers with appropriate technology in their home will also be essential. It may involve upgrading their internet connection so that streamed lessons and demonstrations can be offered in a higher definition, but this will not always be necessary. Depending on the course content that will be delivered in the curriculum, a high-definition document camera a webcam and a good microphone will be all that is needed.

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Final Thoughts on the Online Driver Model

As a blended learning model, the online driver approach to education embraces digital technology like no other. It is most suited, therefore, to students who have reached a specific skill level. This model is equally applicable to science and technology, as well as arts and social science education. The only area where it may not be appropriate is where physical skills and interpersonal interactions are necessarily part of the course, such as physiotherapy or medicine.

If you feel online isn’t the best option for your students, don’t worry! Check out our blended learning page to learn more about other models that may be a better fit for your students. You can also get more valuable insights and resources by visiting the ViewSonic education solutions page.