Blended Learning in Today's Classrooms
Blended learning is one of the most discussed and implemented pedagogical concepts for enriching instruction both in the classroom and at home. In today’s society, students and adults encounter technology at every turn. Because students will inevitably use technology in their future pursuits, exposing children to digital learning in the classroom is not simply trendy; it prepares them to be college and career ready.
Blended learning is defined as combining face-to-face instruction with computer-facilitated instruction to support personalized learning.
Blended learning comes in a variety of formats including whole-group instruction, small-group instruction, labs, and individual learning. Teachers may implement the use of printed, projectable, or digital instruction in a blended learning classroom.
Study evaluates impact of blended learning
WestEd, a nonprofit research, development, and service agency aimed to improve education for students, conducted a study on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to examine how technologies in a blended learning environment offer enhanced opportunities for both teachers and students.
In their report titled Blended Learning and Data Use in Three Technology-Infused Charter Schools, the authors examined whether blended learning environments provided greater access to and more diverse data sources for teachers and students from which to make educational decisions. The authors looked at leadership support of the use of technology, students’ engagement in the learning process, and the flow of data for which decisions were made.
Three small charter schools in Arizona participated in the study. Teachers and administrators were well trained in the use of the technologies and how they could be used to enhance instructional and administrative decision making. Middle and high school students were exposed to multiple forms of technology that supported in-person and distant educational experiences.
Key findings of the study include:
- Blended learning environments provide data to teachers and students that may not be readily available in more traditional classes;
- Blended learning environments provide for anytime and anywhere virtual learning opportunities;
- Teachers were able to address the needs of particular students through various media and diverse learning experiences;
- Students were engaged through flexible and customizable learning activities; and
- The schools exhibited strong leadership, an explicit vision for the use of technology and data, the engagement of students in the teaching and learning process, the enculturation of data use through data teams and data coaches, and the provision of professional learning opportunities.
Blended learning personalizes learning, engages students, and supports educators
This study demonstrates how adopting a blended learning method is more apt to reach individual learners, help to sharpen students’ critical thinking skills, and develop analytic reasoning. This supports the belief that a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning is not a successful model for classrooms made up of diverse learners.
As noted in the study, blended learning strengthens the connection between what is being taught and what students practice and learn. Blended learning offers flexibility and personalized learning, engages today’s tech-savvy students, and provides educators with valuable data to inform instruction.
Read the full report here.