Blended Learning Part 2

The first element of successful blended learning is for the role of the teacher to move from instructor or knowledge deliverer to that of a learning facilitator. The blended learning medal incorporates four major instructional component: Blended learning, experiential learning, digital portfolios and proficiency assessments. Although each of these factors is critical for success, relationships that allow for students to become independent, self-directed learners is the first stage in the process.

Roles and relationships in the blended learning framework.

The emphasis of the blended learning environment is to modify classroom instruction to include both face-to-face instruction and online components to create richer, more robust learning environment for students that will increase student engagement and achievement. Blended instruction allows for the expansion of the classroom beyond the space, time and resources traditionally available within the school environment. Technology must be seen as an enhancer of the learning environment and supplements the classroom instruction, not replacing the classroom. The key to successful learning is to blend hands-on collaboration with thoughtful technology use that develops student knowledge and skills. Two essential elements that need to be planned into activities is that students are allowed to collaborate and use creativity to tackle authentic tasks.

The blended learning environment, knowledge still plays a critical role in the learning process. As John Dewey⁠1 defined “knowledge,” in the sense of information, to mean working capital, the indispensable resources, of further inquiry; of finding out or learning more things. As the amount of information available to us explodes as well as access to information, what matter is not what students know but how they acquire that knowledge and what they can do with it. The development of cognitive skills such as conducting independent research, assessing information for credibility, applying concepts to new situations, and self-critiquing one’s own abilities are central to our success in today’s working world. And more important, to our lives as learners and human beings. Educationalist, Will Richardson, in his book “Why School” Staes the following about learning, “In the new story, real learning happens anywhere, anytime, with anyone we like – not just with a teacher and some same-age peers, in a classroom…More important, it happens around things we learners choose to learn, not what someone else tells us to learn.”

Blended instruction linked with the transformative nature of technology can benefit learning in the classroom and establish habits required in the 21st-century.

Technology can assist in the following areas:-

  • Shifting the emphasis from content to skills;
  • Allowing for constant engagement;
  • Democratising learning;
  • Connecting to “the real world”;
  • Simplifying the back-end work.

When technology is meaningfully integrated into a blended learning framework, structured around an inquiry-based learning approach, the classroom benefits from the transformation in the learning process.

 

1 Dewey, J (1916) Democracy and Education. New York: MacMillan.

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