There are many models of blended learning, or instructional methods that go beyond the traditional classroom. Two popular models that have long been used in primary schools are now reaching higher education: station rotation and lab rotation.
Just like it sounds, station rotation consists of designated areas in a classroom for specific tasks. Usually one task includes an online component. Instructors facilitate learners’ activities, such as guiding them through the sequence of activities or monitoring the time at each task. However, an instructor may not be required. A teaching assistant could easily oversee station rotations, which frees the instructor to tend to other responsibilities, such as teaching another class or attending meetings.
Lab rotation is similar, except it takes place in a computer lab. Learners can take their time completing the assigned tasks that have been designed to support their learning needs. Learners who require support, such as visual aids or repeated audio, can get what they need from lab activities. In addition, learners who lack online access at home can benefit from lab rotation, taking class time to complete work instead of struggling to find time between classes, work, and family responsibilities to make it to an open lab.
Another benefit of either rotation model is giving learners a chance to apply their knowledge in a variety of ways. Not only does this meet the needs of different learners, but it gives all learners an opportunity to see that what they’re learning in class can be used in authentic situations. This type of experience adds value to whichever program the learners are in.
One common way to include station rotation or lab rotation in a traditional class follows this sequence: First, the instructor gives a short lesson, then students who feel ready for independent practice can leave the room to work on their rotations in either another room (station rotation) or a computer lab (lab rotation). Learners who feel they need more instruction can stay behind for additional support from the instructor before going onto the rotations. Learners who require accommodations, such as additional explanations or guided notes, can stay behind to receive them. Using stations allows learners more flexibility and independence, and lets instructors fulfill other duties.
Learners are attracted to hands-on programs, knowing that they’ll have a chance to practice the skills they need to be successful. Station rotations and lab rotations provide learners with different experiences, opportunities to apply knowledge and skills in different ways, and choice.