Blended learning is the use of online tools for an offline class. As the name suggests, the online components are “blended” seamlessly into the course. Online tools like shared documents and discussion boards are used and referenced during class time, while offline components like presentations and lectures can be recorded and posted online. Blended learning is now used in most college courses, because it just works better. Increasingly, it is also being adopted in primary and secondary schools across the country.
Blended learning uses many online applications. These include blogs, calendars, progress trackers, discussion boards, video streaming plugins, and quizzes. A course can be as online as a teacher would like. It is possible for a teacher to manage all assignments, grades, and deadlines without ever touching piece of paper.
Even better, many courses, including those offered by iLearnDL, use a single platform to manage the different apps needed for a successful course. This makes it easy for students to keep track of deadlines, assignments, and grades.
The Advantages of Blended Learning
The research suggests that blended learning is more effective than traditional classroom learning. A study published in Performance Improvement found that students showed greater rates of task completion and improved performance when they had some control over the order of lessons or activities. This is true even if the activities are just rote memorization. It turns out that students do not need “active” learning, i.e. projects and discussions, as long as they have some control and agency in their passive learning.
Similarly, a 2010 meta-analysis of learning methods by the United States Department of Education found that students in blended learning classes had higher academic performance than either students on online-only courses, or students in offline-only courses.
As far as experts can tell, blended learning is the best approach, both for engaging students, and for maximizing their performance. However, blended learning must be conducted appropriately to get the full benefits.
Optimizing Blended Learning
Several strategies are needed to get the best results out of blended curricula. They are:
- Allowing students to pace themselves, within reason.Students become frustrated easily when overloaded, and frustration is fatal to concentration. Allowing students to read on their own schedules prevents many problems. However, clear expectations and assignment deadlines still need to be met.
- Using a transparent grading system where progress can be tracked online. Almost everyone loves games, and most people prefer games with clearly-defined rules for winning and losing. Learning can work the same way. If students know exactly how their grade is calculated and how each lesson and project affects their grade, they will be more motivated to work.
- Showing students exactly what they are supposed to learn. Each reading section should focus on a single topic. Students should know exactly what process they should learn from every lesson, activity or segment.
A blended learning environment takes time to set up correctly. However, once set up, it leads to increased student performance and less overall work for teachers.