What is blended learning? We have been hearing a lot about it lately, but it has actually been around since the early 2000s. It’s an approach of education in which digital technology blends in with traditional analog teaching methods. But blended learning actually encompasses multiple pedagogies and learning methods, some of which you probably already experienced or used. Let’s have a closer look at it and the different forms it can take.
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Chances are you already know what blended learning is. You might even have experienced it as a student without knowing it. In fact, it has been around for a couple decades already. Recently, it gained in popularity outside of the education community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Blended learning started with the implementation of computers in the classrooms and the development of the Internet as a teaching and learning tool. It uses technologies to support and supplement the content of the traditional face-to-face lessons.
Although it has multiple definitions, all of them tend to agree on one point: blended learning can take multiple forms. Included in the well-established umbrella term of blended learning, educators can also implement hybrid learning, distance learning, flipped classrooms, and many other EdTech-assisted models. All of those methods or pedagogies fall under its scope.
But before going deeper with the different forms of blended learning, let’s start by giving a clear and simple definition.
What Is Blended Learning? A Simple Definition
Blended learning is an approach of education in which traditional in-person classes are supplemented or supported with technology and learners take advantage both of online and offline resources. The technologies it uses are plentiful, and the degree of implementation also varies greatly from one school or institution to the other. Therefore, this approach is not a rigid pedagogy or learning model but a descriptor.
Despite one might think, blended learning doesn’t aim to replace the teachers with technologies. Instead, the teachers take advantage of technologies to support their lessons and better focus on the individual needs of the students. It brings a whole new set of possibilities in terms of flexibility and accessibility, placing the learner at the center of its learning process.
Blended learning relies on a broad array of technologies. This could include computers, interactive whiteboards, LMS (Learning Management Systems), videoconferencing, cloud-based solutions, or full online-curricula.
The use of available technologies ranges from the simple sharing of resources or lesson contents via a cloud-based solution like to comprehensive programs where all of the lessons and assignments take place online.
In fact, blended learning can be implemented in a lot of different ways. Let’s have a look at the most common ones.
Different Forms of Blended Learning
The concept of blended learning doesn’t describe any specific method or pedagogy. Instead, it describes any education method or model that integrates digital technologies. In other words, it is an over-arching topic encompassing multiple methodologies and practices. Amongst them, three are already very common:
- Distance learning describes any form of remote education where the student is not physically present during the lesson. Nowadays, those are usually taught online. Such programs can be synchronous, asynchronous, or a mix of both.
- Hybrid learning refers to a synchronous lesson that teaches both in-person and online learners at the same time. Students physically present in class and online students learn the same things and can interact together or with the teacher.
- Flipped classrooms completely reverse traditional teaching methods. The students learn at home and then do bookwork, assignments, or labs in class for reinforcement on the topic. This means students are practicing self-teaching skills and are more independent in their learning. Meanwhile, teachers are adopting a mentorship role rather than a lecturer.
These types of blended learning don’t necessarily remove the teachers or their traditional teaching methods. Rather, they use technology to share, interact, or enhance the information. Some of those also help to break the traditional barriers usually encountered by the students, whatever their background or education level.
The implementation of blended learning has already begun. The use of technology in education doesn’t only help to overcome certain barriers of traditional teaching, it gives the student a more active role in its learning process while accommodating him and the teacher with more flexibility and new possibilities. With the swift development of EdTech and its ever-growing implementation, there is no doubt that blended learning will continue to gain in importance in the future.
If you still have unanswered questions, learn more about blended learning and its role in Education 3.0 . Or discover ViewSonic’s solutions for education.