Blended learning is on the rise with traditional classrooms slowly going digital. Let’s have a look at the scenario today to get a better idea:
85% of educators prefer blended classrooms due to the personalized learning experience it offers.
- According to a study report by the Center for Digital Education:
“Today’s students are easily bored with slow-moving teaching techniques or those they view as antiquated,” says Wayne Feller, Technology and Innovation Coach for Stillwater Area Public Schools in Minnesota. “Both students and parents have higher expectations for teachers to use current technologies, content and teaching methods, and that includes blended learning.”
- The size of the eLearning market in 2020 surpassed $250 billion and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of more than 21% between 2021 and 2027.
Investing in blended learning can prove to be a game-changer not only for the education sector but also for corporate training programs.
You might, however, be surprised to know that modern technology does not replace traditional methods. Instead, it works hard to find a new approach, which is a perfect blend of old-school norms and modern teaching aids.
Modern learning has become a perfect mashup of traditional and contemporary methods in recent times, courtesy of the digital revolution.
That’s what blended learning is all about.
Blended learning has been a major buzzword in education and training circles over the past couple of years. Those associated with the online learning industry or those who follow it closely must be familiar with the concept of blended learning already.
These people include tutors, trainers, instructors, students, and eLearning experts, and they know why it is such a buzzword.
Unfortunately, if you are not a part of these groups and are still in the dark about blended learning, don’t worry! This blog post explains in detail everything you need to know about it.
Read on to find out.
Watch: What is a Learning Management System
What is Blended Learning?
By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn. – Latin proverb
In its broadest sense, the definition of blended learning is any educational environment in which face-to-face learning is combined with technology-enabled learning.
Blended learning can essentially be any type of learning experience that relies at least partly on technology. This format is also commonly referred to as “hybrid learning,” “technology-enabled learning,” and a few other less common terms.
Although blended learning has only recently become a part of the education vocabulary, the idea of combining in-person and technology-enabled learning has been around for a long time. Nevertheless, the recent explosion of technologies such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) has made blended learning a practical solution in a wide variety of contexts.
The co-existence of in-person and technology-enabled learning makes blended learning a rich learning experience.
Let’s explore some other blended learning definitions to see if we can come up with something a little more focused. To be useful, we need a definition that really gets into the why of blended learning, rather than just the what.
Online Learning Consortium, an organization that promotes online education, defines blended learning as any course that “integrates online with traditional face-to-face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner.”
Still, as TeachThought points out, “educators probably disagree on what qualifies as ‘pedagogically valuable.” The definition moves past just integrating technology to using technology to improve the learning process.
The Clayton Christensen Institute, which is a non-profit think tank working in various areas of disruptive innovations, says:
“Blended learning is not the same as technology-rich instruction. It goes beyond one-to-one computers and high-tech gadgets. Blended learning involves leveraging the Internet to afford each student a more personalized learning experience, meaning increased student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of his or her learning.”
This definition brings in the idea of a personalized learning experience.
Examples of Blended Learning
Since a blended learning approach can involve any combination of technology and face-to-face education, perhaps the easiest way to understand it is by exploring some examples.
Here are five ways blended learning can be used in the classroom:
1. The flipped classroom – In a flipped classroom, rather than attending lectures in person and then doing homework outside of class, students watch the lectures online independently and then use class time for activities, such as discussions and group projects, usually considered homework.
This format is popular because it gives learners the best of both worlds:
- video-based lectures that they can go back and watch at any time to ensure comprehension and retention,
- valuable interaction with both the instructor and their fellow classmates.
2. Digital assignments – Digital skills are important for modern learners to master. Digital assignments, like making videos, creating presentations, and writing blogs, are all fun ways for learners to engage with the course material and technology. They help them learn necessary digital skills.
3. Online assessments – Many teachers are now moving their assessments online, even if the rest of the class is conducted in person. This format has several advantages.
It frees up class time for other activities, allows teachers to use a wider variety of question types (e.g., incorporating multimedia) than is possible with paper-and-pencil tests, and makes assessments much easier for teachers with online assessment tools.
4. Online course discussions – Online course discussions allow students to continue the conversation even after class is over. This makes it easier for all learners to participate, even if they are shy about speaking in front of the class.
Online course discussions can be held via email, in virtual classrooms, or even over social media – anywhere where learners gather can become a digital discussion forum.
5. In-class polls and surveys – Using a classroom response system (aka a “clicker”) is a good way to incorporate technology during lectures. Teachers can use an online survey tool to create opinion polls or comprehension questions, which students respond to in real-time.
This increases learner engagement and provides information that teachers can use to adjust their content or delivery as necessary.
These are just five examples to illustrate what blended learning is. There are many more ways to use technology to create meaningful learning experiences.
Read More: 7 Effective Blended Learning Strategies
Components of Blended Learning
A blended learning system is made up of three primary components:
- In-person classroom activities supervised by trained instructors
- Online learning materials, such as webinars and pre-recorded lectures
- Structured and independent studies guided by online lectures and classroom skills
Blended Learning Models
There are different interesting models of blended learning. Some of the popular ones are described below:
⇨ Flipped Classroom
This is one of the most popular blended learning models used by learners around the world. In flipped classrooms, students study lecture materials at home before class. The classroom time is devoted to discussions and homework.
In the case of a traditional learning system, homework is usually done at home. The flipped classroom is, thus, a reversal or 180-degree flip from the traditional education model.
The rotation model is characterized by a learning cycle that rotates between online study and face time with teachers. The schedule between the two learning methods is divided, fixed, and announced usually at the instructor’s discretion.
Learners are rotated between online learning and pen-and-paper assignments according to a plan.
⇨ Self-Directed Blended Learning
In this model, students take online courses in addition to face-to-face learning. As the learning is self-directed, there is no fixed weightage given to either online learning or offline learning.
Learners usually use this model to supplement classroom learning, and they learn at their own pace and convenience.
⇨ Flex Blended Learning
It is a self-guided and independent method of learning in which online learning forms the mainstay for learners, punctuated by offline learning from time to time.
In other words, students rely primarily on digital platforms to learn, even as teachers are available offline for face-to-face consultations and necessary support.
Benefits of Blended Learning
Blended learning brings significant advantages to both learners and instructors (facilitators).
3 Benefits for Learners
- Blended learning gives learners the convenience and flexibility to learn anytime and any place. They can also self-pace their learning.
- Since it is a blend of brick-and-mortar education and virtual learning, it offers opportunities for comprehensive learning by combining the best of both worlds.
- This approach to learning enables learners to interact with instructors as well as fellow learners. It, thus, encourages and supports social learning.
3 Benefits for Instructors
- Blended learning cuts down training costs, efforts, and time on things generally associated with face-to-face learning, such as venue, printed materials, and commuting.
- Organizations can use various blended learning methods, such as webinars and gamification, to deliver eLearning for better engagement and results.
- When implemented using a learning management system, blended learning makes learning cost-effective and efficient. It gives assured ROI.
5 Common Mistakes in Blended Learning
Before adopting any modern technology, it is important to understand where you have the chances to go wrong as much as what you’re capable of doing with it.
This will enable you to prepare against any slip-up and ensure smooth sailing till the end.
Here are five common mistakes people make while planning and delivering blended learning:
- No Time-Bound Goals
Poor goal-setting can lead to loss of focus on priorities, frustrated participants, and wasted resources.
Clear-cut SMART goals and a time frame for achieving them are a must for any learning initiatives. This will guide you on the right path and make every action measurable.
Time-bound goals also give you something to reflect upon and evaluate how your blended learning program is shaping up.
In the absence of such goals, learners and educators will remain clueless about the purpose of their efforts.
- Lack of Preparation in Teams
It is a bad practice to tell your team members out of nowhere that they will undergo blended learning today. It is possible that many of them aren’t even aware of what blended learning is, let alone how it works.
First, the participants should fully understand how the system works, how to set it up, and how to use it for best results.
They should also know what each of them needs to do individually and as a group to make blended learning a success.
A short training session will be helpful here.
- No Proper Curriculum
Without a well-planned curriculum, learners will be unable to learn effectively. They will be at a loss as to what they’re learning and why.
An educational or training curriculum provides a roadmap and a sense of direction to learners. Each chapter or topic in a curriculum has a specific learning outcome and the competencies that learners are expected to demonstrate after completing them.
The curriculum should be flexible enough for re-design according to evolving learning needs. It should also be comprehensive to cover all possible blended learning activities.
- Not Using the Right Tool
Believe it or not, your blended learning programs are as good as the platform you use for the purpose. Employing the wrong tool can be worse than using no solution at all.
For example, a complicated tool will require an excessive amount of time learning the ropes. This can shift the focus from learning, which is your main goal. That’s why choosing the right tool is critical.
To land the right blended learning solution, you should first evaluate your employees’ learning needs and skill level.
Also, it is worthwhile to consider whether the tool you’re buying is easily integrable with your existing IT stack.
- No Stakeholder Buy-In
To succeed in your blended learning program, you must ensure that all stakeholders – instructors, learners, and parents – understand and approve of your initiative. In other words, they should be willing participants and acknowledge the importance of the program.
Without such support from stakeholders, your program will remain unfruitful as they fail to recognize the importance of your initiative and shoot in different directions.
The idea is to involve the stakeholders in decision-making through ongoing communication and coordination.
Best Practices for Blended Learning
Like every learning model, blended learning has certain proven techniques or methods. Instructors or training administrators should follow them to make the process more organized and effective in the long run.
Here are the top ones.
👉 Let the top management know the benefits
Your management team should be convinced about the merits of your blended learning program. Only then will you receive the necessary moral, financial, and manpower support from start to end.
Management knows what their employees need to learn based on their business objectives. Their active participation is essential to assess learning needs, measure learning outcomes, and align them with company goals.
👉 Take learners’ preferences into account
Today, learning has become increasingly learner-centric and so understanding how they want to learn is key. Different learners learn differently, and hence the importance of incorporating different learning models that address these needs.
Video lessons, group discussions, role-plays, reading through docs, and listening to podcast series can add variety to learning and make it more engaging for everyone.
👉 Put emphasis on learning outcomes, not just technology
It is true that the type of blended learning tools you use have a lot of impact on how your learners learn. But never place too much focus on technology that it becomes an end, not a means. Learners should not waste too much time on the technicalities of a software solution.
Your attention should be more on the learning outcomes or outcome-based learning. At the end of a course or training session, learners should have demonstrable and measurable skills. Based on the outcomes, you can decide whether your blended learning program is a success or not.
👉 Leverage learning management tools
Choosing the best tool for blended learning is half the work done. A learning management system or LMS can be the right tool here.
These platforms enable users to create, design, share, and track online courses and tests seamlessly. They usually support different file types to cater to different learner preferences and make learning engaging.
Some of the market-leading LMS software tools come equipped with a content library of pre-built courses. This makes it easy to deploy learning in no time. Similarly, an LMS with virtual classrooms helps you centrally manage all activities from one place.
Role of Facilitators in Blended Learning
Sometimes, the term ‘facilitator’ is used in place of ‘teacher’ to refer to instructors engaged in blended learning. The key role of a facilitator is to enable learners to develop specific knowledge and skills by leveraging online study materials, classroom discussions, and independent studies.
Facilitators put emphasis on four major areas:
- Development of course content, both online and offline
- Facilitation of communication with and among learners
- Enabling personalized learning experience with custom courses and designated learning paths
- Timely assessment and grading of learners
Now that you’ve become familiar with the essential information on blended learning, it’s time to discover the best tools that can help you in your endeavor.
List of Best Blended Learning Software
There are several software tools that you can use to manage blended learning in its best form. Here’s a handpicked few.
Microsoft has been working closely with schools as a part of what is called the “Personal Learning Initiative”. Microsoft terms it blended learning.
Office 365 provides a set of robust tools that come in handy in supporting optimized blended learning. It enables instructors to customize teaching for each learner while allowing learners to learn at their own pace. As such, each learner receives the individual attention necessary for successful learning.
The Assignments tab in Office 365 offers a convenient way to assign grades to coursework and share feedback with learners. Office Forms makes it easy to administer quizzes. This and other features make Office 365 a perfect solution for blended and classroom learning.
A math software solution for elementary and middle schools, DreamBox is one of the best blended learning solutions for teachers, math coaches, administrators, and parents. It is easily adaptable to each learner’s needs.
The solution offers on-site instruction, live webinars, and on-demand learning. A new set of features brings new content and supports a variety of learning environments, including a hybrid model.
DreamBox’s thorough and interactive lessons provide the ultimate learning experience personalized to the requirements of each learner. The lessons are available in English and Spanish languages.
Edgenuity is a leading provider of online learning solutions for K–12. It partners with schools and districts in providing the tools and support necessary to maximize learning and improve the success rate.
It offers online courses, intervention solutions, and supplemental instruction for blended or fully online learning. They enable instructors and learners to access resources that meet personalized learning needs and drive success.
The research-based, standardized, and flexible curriculum and digital content support the unique needs of learners, including those with special educational needs.
Talentsoft is a cloud-based learning and talent management software solution. By using it, you can create blended learning paths customized to your specific needs. You can create, publish, manage and track educational content from one place and achieve efficient and high-impact learning.
The blended learning platform lets you focus on both in-person learning and eLearning with resources usable on any device. It is easily customizable and facilitates collaboration between all stakeholders.
Rapid learning content creation and in-module assessment are two of its powerful features. Apart from this, Talentsoft provides many other tools that users need to engage key talents in an organization for productive learning.
While these tools offer various features to help you with blended learning, the online blended learning software by ProProfs takes this a step further. Read on to discover how.
Why Choose ProProfs?
ProProfs is an award-winning blended learning software with over 15 million users in 150+ countries. There are numerous reasons to use it.
Easy to Use
It is the world’s easiest cloud LMS for blended learning. People of all skill levels can use it. No software download & installation. No need for technical know-how.
A premium library of 100+ courses and default templates helps you get your blended learning up and running in no time. These resources are designed by subject matter experts, editable, ready to use.
Deploy engaging assessment quizzes to measure knowledge retention and identify gaps. Choose from different beautiful templates and 10+ question types.
Anytime, Anywhere Learning
Train or teach anyone, anytime, anywhere, using this cloud-based LMS. It works across all modern devices. This way, learners can engage in self-paced learning.
A Q&A-based online community promotes social learning through discussions and knowledge exchange on topics of common interest. Such peer-to-peer learning makes learning more effective.
Get insights into real-time learning data, such as course participation, progress, engagement, completion rate, scores, and total time taken. Identify problem areas and cues for improvement in courses and delivery methods.
ProProfs is known for its exceptional customer service that leaves customers delighted. The team is made of highly professional, dedicated, and prompt members.
Have You Deployed Blended Learning Yet?
When you mix instructor-led training with self-paced, self-guided eLearning, the result is amazing. With a variety of models to choose from, blended learning can give a richer experience to learners than it would have been if they had opted for strictly physical classroom or online learning only.
The advantages that it brings to both learners and educational institutions or enterprises are too substantial to ignore. It promises a flexible and more rounded development of learners.
Make ProProfs Training Maker your staple learning solution to create and share training courses online in a blended learning classroom. Enable anytime, anywhere learning by unlocking all the benefits it offers. It is easier than you think.
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