Why blended learning is gaining popularity
As far as education buzzwords go, blended learning is right at the top of the list. The hybrid between online and teacher-led instruction has been gaining popularity in America’s classrooms for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the fact that school district administrators have been charged with producing students who achieve at a higher academic level – and they’re looking for an innovative approach.
“Just in the last few years there’s been a tremendous interest by school district leaders who know they can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results,” Susan Patrick, president of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, told Smithsonian magazine.
Blended learning is an example of one of the fundamental ways that education is being transformed through the proliferation of technology. Educators have begun incorporating online learning and adaptive learning technology into their classrooms not only because of the extra resources that they provide, but also because 21st century students have grown up in a technology-saturated world, and expect to be able to use computers and tablets in the classroom.
Support for blended learning is clearly picking up speed, but why is this approach to education gaining popularity so rapidly?
Blended learning provides a more flexible approach to education on two distinct levels. For students, it gives them the freedom to find a way of learning that will help them understand content on a deeper level – this approach to instruction banishes the idea of one-size-fits-all education. There are also several different models of blended learning that school districts can manipulate to find the method that best suits their students. Whether they choose a rotational model or think students would receive a greater benefit from a self-blended approach, they have the freedom adapt their instruction.
On a district level, one of the reasons blended learning is undoubtedly gaining popularity is the fact that it’s economical. The costs aren’t necessarily consistent – start-up expenses will be greater because schools need to ensure they have all the necessary technology to implement a blended learning approach. However, this model of instruction can save school districts money in the long run because fewer teachers are able to handle larger numbers of students without negatively impacting their education.
Blended learning has tremendous potential to personalize the learning experience of each individual student – a concept that has been championed by the U.S. Department of Education. When students spend part of their time receiving face-to-face instruction from their teachers, and another portion of their day learning online, they can take the time they need to digest new material at a pace that is most conducive to their learning styles. Schools that choose to use adaptive learning technology can bring personalized learning to an even deeper level, because the technology has the ability to change its approach to instruction in real-time based upon student answers and comprehension. This, in turn, helps students retain more information.
Making Math Work: K-8 Blended Learning by Tom Vander Ark,
CEO of Getting Smart.