In my previous post I looked at possible definitions of blended learning. Having seen what it is, or at least some of the possibilities, in this post I would like to share some of my sources which refer to the advantages of blended learning.
One of the advantages which are attributed to blended learning is that it frees up classroom time for more creative, cooperative exercises, with the basic learning input which is needed, the building blocks as it were, being provided online. Here is a video from the Khan Academy, pioneers in this form of learning, in which the founder, Salman Khan, explains this:
Terry Heick describes 4 benefits of blended learning in his article on the Teach Thought. blog. For Heick, The benefits of taking online and face-to-face classes are linked to a students employability after college. For example, online and face-to-face classes emphasise different aspects of effective communication, all of which are important in the increasingly globalised business world. Also, being able to follow an online course demonstrates that a student has the digital fluency necessary to function professionally, and that s/he has the self-discipline necessary to work autonomously.
The University of Central Florida offers a Blended Learning Toolkit online, which suggests that the benefits of blended learning are that it can be used to breathe new life into established courses by incorporating different forms of interaction into the class, introduces the advantages of an online course without losing the social interaction element of a traditional classroom which is difficult to achieve online, and from an administrative point of view, can free up much-needed classroom space.
Finally, I must mention Thomas Stanley’s series of posts, again on Teach Thought, which examines the different interactions within a blended leaning model of education. The first post in the series looks at possible ways of setting up a blended learning course, suggesting that the online element could introduce the real world into the classroom, allowing students to use that element to enhance their class projects, engaging the students far more than more traditional approaches. In the second part, Stanley focuses on student to student interaction within a blended learning context, examining how this can be realised using both synchronous and asynchronous online tools.
In part three, Stanley looks at the role of the teacher in a blended learning model, suggesting a shift in that role from providing instruction to accompanying students as they learn, a ‘guide by the side’. This is a result of the more inquiry-based learning approach suggeted in part one of this series. This approach allows for more individual tutoring from the teacher for each student as they work through the programme of inquiry designed by the teacher, enabling him / her to evaluate the thinking process of the students more closely. The teacher is also responsible for suggesting resources which the students can use and guiding them in their inquiry, and in their evaluation of their progress.
Further posts in this series will be available soon at www.teachthought.com.