Perhaps the perfect metaphor for blended learning is the opposite of an old saying, “You can have your cake and eat it, too.” Blended learning combines traditional face-to-face instruction with online learning. Learners benefit from an instructor’s knowledge and guidance, yet they enjoy the self-pacing and activities computer applications offer. And just like cake, blended learning comes in many forms to accommodate any occasion. Here are five effective types of blended learning:
Though elementary classrooms are famous for using stations, higher education classes can benefit, too. Learners rotate among different stations or within a computer lab, with at least one station including online learning. For example, a Biology 101 course studying cells could have stations that include assembling models of cells and an online component that helps students review the functions of cells.
Instead of a 100% online program, remote blended learning allows learners to complete most coursework online but requires learners to come to campus for some face-to-face interaction with the instructor. This type of blended learning is popular for many advanced degrees geared towards working professionals. Learners complete online coursework during the week and attend face-to-face classes on the weekends.
Learners complete coursework online, but in a classroom with an instructor. As learners move through modules at their own pace, the instructor is available to answer questions and offer suggestions. The flex model is popular for GED and test prep classes, which are attractive to many members in the community.
In this case, the word “flipped” means reversed. While in a traditional face-to-face class, the learners meet with the instructor for a lecture, then go home to complete the assignments. In a flipped classroom, learners complete online coursework at home to gain new knowledge, and class time with the instructor is used for higher level thinking tasks, such as discussions and creative projects. Graduate programs in education often follow this pattern.
5. Project-based learning
At its heart, project-based learning is a question. A learner creates an inquiry, often around a social issue, then uses online resources to gather facts, data, and other information. The learner uses this information to create a project, sometimes involving the community, that addresses the issue. This is one way to connect classwork to “real life.”
Blended learning engages learners and accommodates different learning styles. In turn, this increases retention and word-of-mouth recruitment. Blended learning also offers ways to involve the community, building stronger ties and support. Having your cake and eating it, too, goes against the old adage. So it’s time to rewrite it.