The term blended learning defines the applied practice of utilising both online and in-person learning experiences when teaching learners. Blended learning employs technology, such as computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, to provide teaching capability previously unattainable through in-person learning and textbooks.
Reasons to deploy blended learning in the first place
The process of blended learning gives learners control over their studies. This is particularly useful for mature students engaging in education, who have any number of other responsibilities and components of life to manage. They are able to benefit from the flexibility of blended learning and reduce the stress over time management. Through blended learning, learners have the opportunity to build useful skills in self-motivation, asynchronous learning and also the ability to communicate with teachers and support staff to ask for help where necessary. Blended learning also frees up the time of teachers, meaning they can use their newfound time for one-on-one teaching and conversations, instead of general traditional teaching. The combination of these factors means learning can become individualised, fulfilling the needs and expectations of the learner.
Another advantage of deploying blended learning is the exposure of both students and teachers to online competency, through the use of online sessions and various use of software and applications. This digital competence gained through blended learning will serve students with vital skills and confidence when it comes to their working life, where technology has an ever-growing influence in the day-to-day processes of businesses.
What does this mean for the future of education?
The rate of adoption for blended learning has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a result of both student and teacher inability to be present in the classroom. As a result, of lockdown restrictions. However, the need for education persisted, leading to online methodologies being employed to ensure education delivery. Although this was intended to be a temporary measure, it exemplified the usability and convenience of the technology and has been continually adopted by many training providers and learning centres. This has led to a digital revolution, catalysing the implementation of blending learning across the spectrum of education.
This trend will continue to rise as technology begins to come increasingly embedded within virtually all aspects of the human experience. Therefore, educators and training centres must prepare students to be successful in the modern world of work. As a result, blended learning will continue to be deployed. Furthermore, as students seek more individualised learning and flexibility in their schedules, the incentives for educators to implement blended learning will increase. Students experience better academic performance when they can be educated in the way they find most beneficial and effective.
While it is impossible to accurately predict the future of education, it is evident that some application of the current blended learning will continue. It is important to note that a successful blended programme requires appropriate infrastructure and connectivity, technical training for teachers and students, as well as quality assurance frameworks.
The BLENDED LEARNING in ELT project aims to combine traditional education methods with technology-supported materials or blended learning models to: plan blended lessons; to manage distance education environments; to make the lessons interesting and keep students motivated; to increase the knowledge/skills of teachers regarding digital education; to integrate mobile devices into the lesson; to use technology more effectively and safely; through training activities taking place in five different European countries covering topics such as blended learning approaches etc. for teachers, educators and trainers. Stay tuned for more news!