Blended Learning: Definition, Characteristics, Models & Advantages
Blended learning refers to an educational solution that combines several different delivery methods, such as collaboration software, web-based courses, electronic support system, and knowledge management practices. The term blended learning is used to describe the learning process that mixes various event-based activities, for instance, face-to-face classrooms, live e-learning, or self-paced learning.
Along with digital and social media becoming more and more prevalent in the life of learners. It was only a matter of time before learning became “blended” by necessity.
In the present article, we are going to discuss the term blended learning more deeply and shape a clear image of its definition, models, and more.
Blended Learning Definition
As we have already understood, this is an approach to the educational process when online and traditional face-to-face teaching methods are mixed. In this way of formal education program, a unique approach to learning is experienced through electronic devices and face-to-face communication as well. Such a method of multichannel learning covers in-person classroom time and individual online study with the help of e-learning software.
These courses that follow the model of blended learning often take place in a real classroom with a devoted teacher. Yet there is still an offer of additional learning opportunities through a digital platform. Լearning elements are usually open to self-pacing by every student and can usually be logged in at any time and in any place.
Characteristics of Blended Learning
People who experience in the educational industry sometimes have to choose between online vs traditional education. Somehow, the blended learning links these two and offers a mixed type of education. As an education provider, you may create your website and use it to share your knowledge. This is a great idea also for implementing blended learning. Let’s discuss some of the most important characteristic features of it.
The blended learning program is:
- Partly Online
As we have already understood, some part of blended learning is done online. Students don’t have to visit schools or educational centers every day (depending on the learning model). As a teacher, you may send some courses and tasks through your platform, and they complete them online.
- Partly Away
In some cases, students visit different places such as libraries, special educational centers, schools, and even camps to complete some stages of the learning process.
- Through Learning Path
The personalized learning path helps students to learn through different interactive activities, discussions, courses, games, etc.
Blended Learning Models
If you want to fully understand the process of blended learning in action then you should consider blended learning online and blended learning classrooms. Blended learning comes up with various experiences. However, there are 4 main models of blended learning and we are going to discuss them below.
Model #1 Rotation
This is the process when the learners rotate between learning modalities on a fixed schedule. At least one of the activities is implemented online. The rotation model, in its turn, has four subcategories. Here they are:
- Station Rotation. This type is mainly used in the elementary school. Students are divided into groups and each group has a given task. The learners are allowed to rotate through stations in the classroom as group members.
- Lab Rotation. In the case of this subcategory, the learners are required to rotate through the computer lab for the e-learning station. This model requires in-detailed scheduling.
- Individual Rotation. Here the students are allowed to rotate only through the stations that are set by the teacher or the algorithm. They may take part in the activities that are scheduled on their playlist.
- Flipped Classroom. This model focuses on flipping the traditional role of every learning space. Learners should watch assigned lectures, prepare the coursework online, take part in discussions and engage with the projects. This is the most favorite model both by teachers and students as it provides efficiency for online and offline learning.
Model #2 Flex
When relying on the Flex model, learners get more control over their learning. Here, the teaching process is mainly implemented online with a few exceptions when face-to-face communication is needed for some instructions or support. Every student has a personalized schedule they follow during the learning process.
For instance, individually learning the specific theory or topics, students gather together at a library or a classroom and discuss points, implement individual or group tasks, and so on.
A special place is available for discussions with the teacher whether it’s a private talk or a group discussion. At the beginning of every week, the teacher sets up a schedule of all the workshops that are meant to happen during the week. Then the students make private calendars for themselves according to their interests.
During these lessons you may come over:
- students working independently
- collaboratively working with learners
- small group discussions
- peer tutoring, etc.
The key factor of this model is the FLEXIBILITY. Students are free to join this or that group, work with a friend, or on their own. Everything is up to them. In the same way, the tutor moves around the groups and offer support to every student. For some specialists, this freedom is the secret to achieving success.
Model #3 A La Carte
This model of blended learning is usually used in high schools. In this case, the students get the flexibility to take part in online courses and learn from the online instructor who complements their learning experience during the face-to-face classes.
The model A La Carte helps to go through the flow and get the best of possible success, following the trends and getting ready for the future changes and challenges. These days, digital learning is everywhere, can be at home, in the cyberenvironment, with blended learning through face-to-face connection, etc.
Teachers think that such a model is effective as it gives students flexibility, scheduling choices, and managing the time to complete any task in time.
They say this is not about technology but the learning through technology. The key point is anywhere, anytime learning, and technologies provide this opportunity, increasing the student interest and engagement.
Model #4 Enriched Virtual
The enriched virtual model allows the learner to complete most of the tasks online but they have also the chance to attend face-to-face classes. Students do not have to attend schools daily as in the case of the flipped classroom but usually, twice a week attendance is required.
Such learning takes the process from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered approach. As a rule, this has a positive influence on student success.
Students prefer this model as they get more independence and may take part in the specific group activity they like. Usually, there are small groups with different tasks and activities. They watch instructional videos and complete guided notes. Then the students complete tasks following the notes. This may be done collaboratively or individually.
In the end, the participants do exit tickets individually. This reveals how well they have grasped the main concept. Students say, in this way, they are always in a challenge. It is not possible to learn something they have already known.
Advantages of Blended Learning
When coming to blended learning, the most critical point to understand is that this is a tech-rich instruction that offers learn alone courses.
The teachers get independence to choose any kind of task to assign, is synchronous or asynchronous teaching, etc.
On the other hand, the learners are free to choose the time and the way they prefer to learn. Such an approach motivates the students and evokes their interest in learning more.
According to research, blended learning examples provide better effectiveness and productivity. Having the freedom to choose and follow their preferences, students tend to learn more and provide better results.
Additionally, the online platforms increase student engagement through live chats, emails, and similar discussions. In this way, students get used to collaborative learning.
In blended learning, instructors have a better understanding of the student's progress, thanks to online learning tools. Accordingly, it becomes easier and faster to shape an opinion about the student and provide methods that better meet their individual needs and interests.
4. Increasing Reach
Traditional face-to-face classes follow some limitations related to time, distance, etc. Blended learning, on the other hand, doesn’t face such distinctions. Thanks to the technologies and the possibility of remote learning, the audience is increased.
This gives the instructors an opportunity to increase their reach and work with more potential students.
One of the greatest advantages of blended learning is that most of the costs faced by educational institutions are reduced. From transportation fees up to an event ticket, or printed material requires a significant amount of money that is missing in the case of blended learning.
Looking for a Platform to Apply Blended Learning?
If you like the way blended learning helps students achieve success you may also become an instructor who provides solutions. Create an online platform and start offering your services. If you are looking for a good platform then try Uteach. Register on the platform and create your own website within minutes with your custom domain, design, and preferable features.
Here you may conduct live lessons, present online courses, publish educational material as blog articles or attach other files, come up with tests and quizzes, organize webinars, and so on.
You may start your 35 days of the free trial today, or contact the team and get familiar with the overall platform features.