Traditional classroom learning has always faced many issues. These include teacher unable to spend enough one-on-one time with each learner; learners having different levels of knowledge, learning speed and goals; quality of instruction almost entirely dependent on personality and skill of the teacher. In some subjects these issues don't pose as much of a challenge, however in language learning they are absolutely critical. Online learning might seem like a good solution but it has a major weakness: lack of social and oral interaction. Which, again, when it comes to language learning, is absolutely crucial.
What is Blended learning?
Blended learning is the ultimate solution to all of these issues. This method combines face-to-face instruction with online learning. Face-to-face instruction can include traditional teacher-led classroom, one-on-one lessons and collaborative group work. Online learning can also be individual or in groups, but it relies on the use of multimedia resources and online programs.This enables students to have some control over time, pace, path, and place of their curriculum and in turn increases their motivation. Most importantly blended learning does not replace the teacher with technology, but instead uses it to assist and extend their teaching.
A blended learning model consists of:
- face -to-face classroom activities facilitated by the teacher;
- online resources such as videotaped lectures and interactive exercises;
- independent study time.
Depending on your students’ needs and goals, there are different models of blended learning to choose from:
- Face-to-face driver – teacher drives the instruction and supplements it with multimedia and online resources.
- Online driver – All curriculum and teaching is delivered via a digital platform and face-to-face meetings can be arranged if necessary.
- Flex – most of the learning experience happens on a digital platform. Teachers are available for additional support and consultations
- Rotation – students alternate between online learning and face-to-face instruction.
- Self-blend – students can choose to supplement their classroom instruction with additional online course work.
- Labs – all of the learning experience takes place online at a specific location.
Benefits of blended learning:
1) Multimedia provides the learners with input without requiring teacher time and leaving the teacher free to focus on the output.
2) Multimedia provides the learner with a multitude of easily accessible support materials such as written texts, translations, pictures, etc. This enables the learner to study the topic in more detail than they would have in a traditional classroom.
3) The teacher is able to track learner performance more easily and quickly.
4) The teacher is able to personalize the material more quickly and easily.
How to implement blended learning into your classroom?
- Ensure all your students have access to a technological device;
- Amass great online resources;
- Think how you will monitor your student’s work. ( I personally ask my students to email me their screenshots of completed tasks);
- decide which activities benefit most from direct interaction and which the students can complete on their own;
- put some of your materials into interactive format e.g. videotape lectures.
Have you already implemented blended learning in your classroom? Do you find it works better than traditional classroom instruction?