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Blended learning could be the key to improving education

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is a method of learning which combines classroom and online education. The Online Learning Consortium defines blended learning courses as those that “integrate online with traditional face-to-face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner.” This approach to learning blends face-to-face instruction with online education technology to complement and improve the learning process.

The new trend in education

The learning landscape is radically changing; we now live in a digital age which has seen the widespread integration of technology into our society. Today’s generation is accustomed to incorporating digital information into their lives, so we shouldn’t expect the classroom to be any different.

It is an exciting time for blended learning; the wave of increasingly affordable and advanced educational technology has enabled online learning to become well established in education. In fact, according to a 2010 study from the U.S. Department of Education, blended learning classes produce stronger results than their face-to-face equivalents. Blended learning has emerged as a leading trend in education as more educators recognise the need to transform education into something new and innovative.

The benefits of the blended learning model

Learning institutions are beginning to see the benefits of a blended learning approach for students:

Enhances personalisation

Personalised learning should be a top priority for schools and universities. Everyone learns in a different way and at a different pace; it is a challenge for an educator to account for each individual student’s learning needs. Blended learning can support teaching methods by giving students the ability to access the learning material at home and move at their own pace through lessons.

According to the Centre for Digital Education’s 2015 survey, the main benefits experienced by schools transitioning to personalised learning include:

  • Student engagement was increased by 69%
  • Student retention rates rose by 39%
  • Test scores improved by 28%
  • Grade rates up by 22%

Reduces costs

Blended learning is often seen as a solution to reduce the costs involved in traditional education. Blended learning courses allow students to bring their own digital devices to take full advantage of the adaptive learning software. This can cut costs in many areas, for example, e-textbooks can take the place of course textbooks.

Collects accurate data

Blended learning programmes have sophisticated software which can automatically collect student data; this provides a more streamlined method for the tutor to measure the student’s progress. It is a good way for tutors to monitor a student’s performance and see the areas where he or she may need a little more guidance, which helps the learning journey become much more efficient.

Strengthens digital skills

Digital fluency is a goal of the Common Core State Standards, and states that making connections to technology in the real world is essential. Educators are expected to integrate technology into a variety of subject areas to help students develop their digital skills and address different learning needs. The aim is to help students be “career ready” and blended learning plays an instrumental role in this process of preparing students for life beyond the classroom.

Makes learning fun

According to a survey conducted by Quizlet, 83% of teachers and 65% of student believe that devices in the class make learning more fun. Adding an entertaining element to learning is more likely to enhance engagement with the content, which also helps students to enjoy learning. Gamification, for example, can range from online games to virtual environments that simulate real-world situations. Interactive material tends to facilitate higher recall and better knowledge retention.

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