Technology has been fascinating and challenging the human brain over the generations in diverse fields. Whether it be social or cultural development, nothing has been left untouched by it. No doubt technology has made human life easier on earth; we can see its impacts in every arena of society; agriculture, education, environment and so on. However, the intention of this blog is to magnify another derivative of technology in education: blended learning.
Blended learning is defined as “a coherent design approach that openly assesses and integrates the strength of face to face and online learning to address worthwhile educational goals” (Garrison D.Randy, Norman Vaughan. Blended Learning in Higher Education.2007).
The conventional method of teaching in a classroom is now transformed into online training environment where verbal instructions, within four walls, are accompanied by technology based teachings. Both are carried alongside to provide a comprehensive and learning experience to the learners.
Such learning involves:
- DIY projects and assignments
- Online discussion forums
- E-lectures for the classes
- Online educational courses and examinations
Evolution of learning
Blended learning is based on the need of more engaging learning experience for students. Going back to the last decade, the traditional classroom lectures were the chief play to instill learning and literature in the students but since time is changing rapidly it works no longer. Extensive, tiring, and ordinary lectures reduce the student’s capacity to interact and learn with any interest. This does not mean that lectures are efficient no more since the in-depth discussion and dissemination of information and knowledge is a must even in 21st century. But information and communication technology’s initiative of online learning binds students to knowledge and education maintaining their interest and allowing them to plunge into the pool of information and technology. But neither online learning nor traditional face to face learning would contribute individually in advancement of the conventional ideals of higher education. Thus, blended learning came into existence.
Blended learning in institutions/higher education
Higher education system today is in a pressure to continuously adapt and evolve according to the societal needs as 21st century is striving towards digitalization. As discussed earlier, online or e-learning and traditional pedagogy when come together marks the efficient learning experience for students. Usage of applications like GoClass, Broadcast, and iPad in classrooms would enable both students and educators to move a step further towards education and learning. Therefore, many institution and universities are getting hands on blended learning when the urge for a change in teaching and learning occurred. Conventional face to face pedagogy with internet as a tool in a classroom serves students with better and interactive learning experience.
Also it is a sort of self-personalized learning with institutions’ support to help students exploring and assessing what they prescribe. But switching to blended learning from face to face teaching is not as simple as it appears for the institutions and faculty. Budget expansion and teaching hours without affecting the quality of learning is problematic for the higher educators. Also, implementation of blended learning involves the choice of suitable methods to attain the goals of transformational but innovative learning. Here are provided few of the basic models of blended learning:
- Rotation model: This model of blended learning involves the active participation in both online and offline learning. Specific time is provided to complete the various tasks assigned to the small groups of students. The reason it is called rotational model because the groups rotate across the tasks timely and each group participates in the respective tasks involved.
- Flex model: It is classified as the mode of learning in which entire learning is acquired by the student online in the campus of the institution. Academic concepts and teachings are delivered to them through iPad, or any such tool regardless of the time limit. However, one to one tutoring can also be done by the teacher if needed.
- Enriched virtual model: Under this model, there is no compulsion for the students to visit institution in order to learn and study. Virtual teachings are provided through webinar, broadcast, or any other mode to connect student with the teacher. Also, some institutions and universities develop their own applications for their convenience.
Why switch to blended learning?
Go-getting towards digital age, our standard of living has been changing and thus, mode of acquiring knowledge should also adapt itself to blended learning. It has many advantages for students, teachers and future generation itself:
- Time and cost saving mode of learning
- Opens up research skills for the students
- Highly interactive teaching
- Access to study material across the globe
- Supports face to face teaching and learning method
- Gives student the autonomy to grasp knowledge on their own
- Propagates computer literacy among the students