Like other forms of blended learning, the self-blend model makes use of online educational content, which can be delivered through a plethora of digital devices. Unlike other forms of blended learning, however, there is little in the way of teacher support for the online content. The students themselves make progress with their course either via remote engagement with their tutor (who could be in another location entirely) or by organizing their own education from suitable resources they find for themselves online.
Read on to find out more about the self-blend model and why it is advantageous in many educational settings. Or, check out our education solutions page for further insights into the role technology plays in the modern classroom.
As its name suggests, the self-blend model of blended learning puts the student in control of the education they receive. It is most commonly associated with high school students in the United States, although the self-blend model is equally applicable to higher education settings, too; most notably, the distance learning that is offered by the Open University in the UK.
What is the Self-Blend Model of Blended Learning?
The self-blend model of blended learning relies – almost exclusively – on online learning. Although students may use computer labs within their school or college and receive assistance from teachers about how to access online resources, what they access and when they do so is usually entirely down to the student concerned. Indeed, the self-blend model does not rely on classroom-based activities at all. Students can just as easily complete a course that is delivered through the self-blend model at home or in a cyber lounge as they might in a classroom that happens to have a networked computer in it.
The idea that lies behind the self-blend model of blended learning is that it allows students to choose areas of education that might otherwise be unavailable to them. For example, in a high school setting, students might not be able to study a particular subject because there is no one on the school’s teaching roster who is qualified to teach it. If the school in question still wants to offer such education to its student body, however, then it can hire a teacher who can deliver it remotely. Zoom sessions or other audio-video streaming methods are both popular, but it could choose to offer courses that are entirely delivered through previously uploaded educational videos.
Typically, such courses will be available to school-age children who are towards the end of their time in formal education and want to specialize in areas that their school does not have the funding to support. This might be because there is too little interest in a particular specialism to warrant it or because there is a lack of teaching skills outside of core subject areas.
Equally, in adult education, the self-blend model is seen as a great way for people to educate themselves using online resources in a way that can suit a variety of lifestyles. Because pre-recorded educational content and learning modules can be accessed at any time and from any location, adults who can only conduct their education in the evenings and weekends, for example, can be catered for. In adult education, the self-blend model will typically be used for people to complete a foundation course, which is then assessed by a tutor who might offer access to a formal course off the back of it.
In some cases, entire course modules can be completed using the self-blend model. When added to other modules that have either been completed in-person or using blended learning methods, this could add up to a degree-standard qualification. In this sense, the self-blend model is highly adaptable to different educational settings, differing curricula, and a wide variety of educational needs; this is because it is so student-centered.
What are the Benefits of the Self-Blend Model?
One of the key benefits of the self-blend model is that it is so flexible. Although it can be used to support so-called core education and allow students who have fallen behind in the basics to catch up, it is also advantageous for students seeking a further specialization. It is a relatively inexpensive way to support learning in areas where it may otherwise be costly to hire the necessary experts.
Equally, it can be used to deliver course content in its entirety or be adapted to support the classroom learning that has gone before. Teachers can be actively involved in the self-blend method. It is simply the case that, more often than not, they do not feature in any face-to-face sense. Because digital courses can be replicated for other students down the line at little or no cost, another significant driver of this primarily-teacherless model of blended learning is that there is an economy of scale to be had. In other words, unless the course content needs to be updated regularly, online education of this type is cheaper to produce than in-classroom experiences.
Of course, self-blended learning is ideal for formal education, whether you are talking about school-age children or adults. However, it can also be used for informal education, such as helping people to understand public health messages more fully. It is also often used within companies and large organizations to deliver anything from new employee inductions to self-managed continuing professional development programs.
How to Implement a Self-Blend Model
With little or no face-to-face teaching involved in the model, digital devices will be used for both course content delivery and student assessments. Therefore, internet-enabled computer equipment will be needed. Course content should, consequently, be offered in a compatible format with every common operating system, such as Windows, for instance. All of the content that is delivered through browsers needs to be optimized for the most common ones, too, regardless of the size of the screen that students will have access to. This includes handheld devices like tablets as well as conventional desktop PCs.
Final Thoughts on the Self-Blend Model
The self-blend model of blended learning is a convenient means of offering education to students where it would otherwise be impractical. However, since nearly all of the education is delivered without a teacher in this model, it can lead to simple misunderstandings that a teacher would resolve if they were present to support the learning. That said, the flexibility and degree of specialization that this model offers means that it is likely to remain popular among students and educators alike.
If you are interested in blended learning, we cover the topic extensively here. You can also find more valuable insights and resources surrounding the integration of teaching and technology by visiting the Viewsonic education solutions page.