Teacher talk: Blended learning
Blended learning is a combination of face-to-face, classroom-based instruction and self-paced online education that can be completed at home at the student's convenience. In these scenarios, students come to class with background knowledge of the course content, ready to apply that knowledge in a more meaningful way. The purpose of blended learning is to create a more efficient school day with a greater emphasis on exploring content through discussion and activities.
The most prominent example of blended learning is a flipped classroom. This pedagogical approach is actually a reversed classroom experience, where students are assigned to view a lecture online at home and perhaps participate in a discussion forum. Students then have time to digest the content, review a lecture more than once, note questions they may have about the content, and even chat with classmates about the lesson before coming to class. This allows for a more efficient use of time, as students can learn the necessary content in the comfort of their own home and come to class prepared to analyze the lesson.
Homework assignments are typically completed in class, but are often of a more collaborative nature. Many blended learning teachers use classroom time for problem based learning projects. In class, students have the flexibility to meet with their peers on these projects and use that time to work collaboratively. The teacher's role in this type of learning shifts to more of a guide. Because the lecture has already been viewed online, the teacher is now free to interact more directly with students and offer more hands-on activities or labs.
A flipped classroom can be a positive experience for both teachers and students, many of whom have a desire to use technological tools and make better use of their school day. This type of learning does take more planning time on the teacher's part though, since they will need to upload videos and monitor discussion forums. Students also need to be consistent with viewing the content at home. But by optimizing class time and offering more constructive interactions between students and teacher, blended learning boasts many potential rewards.
About the Author:
Christi Wilson is a credentialed teacher of highly-gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, a bachelor's degree in elementary education, a master's degree in education leadership, and has even taught K-12 education online. A mother of three busy boys, she knows how important it is to keep students engaged in the classroom and interested in a lifetime of learning.