The online lab school model involves the use of computerized distance learning for all, or almost all, of its course content. This will mean that conventional education that is conducted in a classroom or a lecture theatre is not needed and that teachers, where they are used, will mostly function in the role of a student resource.
To find out more about the online lab school model of blended learning and the main advantages it offers both students and educators, read on, or visit the ViewSonic education solutions page for further EdTech insights.
In many regards, the online lab school model of blended learning is similar to the online driver model as teaching is delivered via digital means. The principal difference between the two blended learning models is that the online lab school approach makes use of computer systems that are provided by and located at the students’ usual place of education. As such, this model would suit school-age children as well as those going through further education, although it can also be used to support both university-level education as well as professional training programs among adults.
What is the Online Lab School Model of Blended Learning?
Crucially, the online lab school model differs from the online driver model because conventional education will continue outside of the online lab sessions. For example, teaching staff might be present in a school’s computer lab to ensure that students are working in an age-appropriate way on their given course material and to assist them with any technical or connectivity issues that may present themselves.
As such, this model tends to be adopted when children are in secondary education and still studying a wide range of subjects, not just one specialism, as might be more often the case with the online driver model. This difference is worth making clear because the two can seem similar at the outset. With the online lab school model, students would typically attend a class at their school or college on one subject and enjoy a teacher-led experience. When they move on to study another subject for which there is no specialist teacher present, they might head to their schools’ computer lab for an hour or so of education in the online lab school model.
As such, curricula can be adapted much more easily when the online lab school model of blended learning is adopted. Schools without a specialist foreign language teacher, for example, could still offer courses in several different modern languages if they were to offer them through this pedagogical model. In turn, this could save educational establishments money in terms of staffing recruitment, as well as a greater degree of choice for the student body.
What are the Benefits of the Online Lab School Model?
One of the biggest benefits that places of education will obtain by adopting the online lab school model is that it allows for digital resources to be shared among the entire body of students. Since students will receive in-person education from teachers for part of their day and only access their computer lab when it is time for an online lab school model session, the lab itself will be capable of acting as a resource for all students. In other words, because not all of the education that students receive will be delivered online, just one or two courses, they will not always be in the computer lab, so this resource can be shared by all of the various classes in a school.
Sharing a resource as well as being able to offer specialist education in certain subjects without the need to hire a teacher with the appropriate skills means being able to offer more to students at a lower cost. Of course, there is an initial investment that needs to be made in the right sort of educational hardware, but the computer equipment that is needed does not need to be expensive. Indeed, tablets and laptop devices are often sufficient to fully equip a school’s computer lab.
Another important advantage of this model, where it is used in secondary and further education, is that it allows teaching staff to focus on their core skills. It is often the case that in under-resourced schools, math or English teachers will be asked to teach courses outside of their main specialisms. By adopting the online lab school model, such teaching staff will not have to teach subjects they are less familiar with and can concentrate on what they do best. This will inevitably push up the attainment levels of the students.
How to Implement an Online Lab School Model
A range of different devices can be used within the online lab school model. Nevertheless, those which are specifically designed for educational settings will tend to offer the best return since they can often better withstand the rigors of the classroom. One or more classrooms will need to be converted to a computer lab so that students each have access to their own terminal and can make progress with their online course content on their own. This does not preclude collaborative working among students, but each will need his or her own device.
Where students will be live streaming lessons from specialist educators in real-time, a fast internet connection and local area network will be a necessity. In educational establishments where this is not possible, downloaded content that can be accessed offline provides an alternative approach. Overall, teachers can make use of automated marking and assessment software to keep an eye on the progress of each student and to determine which of them, if any, require additional support.
Final Thoughts on the Online Lab School Model
The online lab school model of blended learning allows for a wider range of academic subjects to be offered than would otherwise be possible, especially when funding is tight. Although there is an initial set-up cost to consider, it can be a useful investment that will benefit the entire student body. Where it has been adopted, attainment levels have been seen to rise across the board, not just in the additional subjects that the model allows for.
If you would like to know more about other types of blended learning, we cover the topic extensively here. You can also find further insights into the role technology is playing in the modern classroom by visiting the ViewSonic education solutions page.