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Ways to Implement Blended Learning

What is blended learning? 

As a result of the surging capabilities of the internet and the ever-increasing accessibility individuals have to technology, the rate of blended learning is set to soar. The term blended learning describes the applied practice of using both online and in-person learning experiences when teaching students. Blended learning utilises technology, such as computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, to provide teaching capability previously unattainable through in-person learning and textbooks. Most schools,  colleges, universities and other training centres are already exploring how to incorporate new technologies into their course structure.  

Why is blended learning so effective? 

Blended learning experiences are a great asset to teachers because they offer learners the benefits of both virtual learning and traditional learning. With learners benefiting from the experienced teacher who can explain teachings in multiple ways to increase understanding, in addition to learners being able to receive instant feedback on their work, thanks to automated assessments facilitated through online learning. 

An additional benefit of blended learning is the ability to more effectively track and improve engagement. This will allow teachers to identify which learners are struggling with course content and which learners they need to communicate with and offer extra support.  

Blended learning provides an accessible and flexible method of teaching that is likely to boost morale by fulfilling the needs of the modern age tech savvy learners. Learners are able to benefit from flexible scheduling for their learning at the times that suit them, which will increase productivity and subsequently their morale. By removing the traditional rigid structure applied to learning that often encounters resistance and decreased motivation.  

Implementation of blended learning can also be cost and time effective. This is possible as the time spent in a classroom is reduced, which reduces the costs incurred in hiring a teacher or a classroom. Additionally, the online resources created can be distributed and re-used at minimal cost, with the effectiveness of the resource not being affected. 

Methods to implement blended learning 

Teachers can experiment with the flipped classroom model, enabling learners to use independent study time to watch lecture content and introduce new concepts. Whilst in-person teaching is then used to engage in discussion about this independently learnt information, alongside the performing of exercises and tests with the support of their teacher, and engaging in group work and discussion. Therefore, allowing teachers to maximise the social value of classroom time, while ensuring that students don’t miss out on learning new information.  

Secondly, teachers can switch to digital assessments for instant feedback.  This methodology permits teachers to automate areas that would previously have taken up a great deal of their time, such as marking assessments. By making this switch to blended learning the assessment process can become effortless for teachers, whilst simultaneously giving learners the benefit of receiving their test results instantly. 

Blended learning can also be implemented within teaching through the implementation of digital revision tasks, in which the results inform future class schedules. Teachers can utilise digital learning platforms providing access to data about the progress and attitudes of students for specific topics. These results derived from digital revision tasks can then be used to set the class schedule for revision. 

Offer virtual office hours for students to ask questions 

A further use of technology to extract the benefits of blended learning would be for teachers to offer virtual office hours for learners to ask questions. This is because, learners are often shy about asking questions during face-to-face class time. Especially if they are unfamiliar with their classmates. Therefore, teachers can use digital learning platforms to set virtual office hours, inviting learners to chat virtually in a personal manner. Many learners will welcome the opportunity to ask questions more privately, and teachers can make sure that any misconceptions about the learning material get addressed quickly. 

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.  

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