Blended learning is like video calls or online training: It has existed for some time, but many people didn’t think of putting it into practice until lockdown started. Now that we have become accustomed to using digital tools and can take advantage of all their resources, hybrid learning or blended learning is a very attractive strategy because of the excellent results it offers.
Based on the knowledge and experiences that teachers from our community and our training team have shared with us, we’ll explain what blended learning is, what types exist, and why it is so successful. We’ll also explain the steps to implement it in a simple, but effective, way.
What is blended learning?
Blended learning is an educational model in which the processes of traditional classroom teaching and virtual learning are mixed. The virtual part is developed remotely using a device, whether it is a phone, computer, or tablet, and is characterized by giving students some control over the time, place, itinerary, or pace of learning.
You might know this model by names such as b-learning, hybrid learning, or liquid learning.
Blended learning innovation encompasses different aspects of learning: The way you work and communicate, the interaction between faculty and students, and the roles they play in the process. The role of the student becomes much more active, as they assume responsibility for their learning and develop their autonomy.
Blended learning also implies a change in teaching role: The role of teachers here is not to contribute knowledge, but to guide students in the process of acquiring knowledge. That is why we talk about tutors, guides that support students in learning.
Are you wondering if blended learning can replace traditional learning? In this post you will understand that it is not about replacing learning but about integrating it into learning. Yes, because blended learning is the fluid, articulated, and planned integration of teaching-learning wherever necessary. New rules of the game are in place.
What does a blended learning approach mean?
The blended learning approach goes beyond the use of new technologies in teaching. It is not about moving content from the physical world to the digital world, duplicating information, but about creating a learning experience that integrates the best of both methodologies.
This approach requires planning and designing educational processes so that they will be distributed between the physical classroom and the virtual classroom. Faculty will develop content with materials and activities for students to work on outside the classroom.
An innovative model
Blended learning is in line with the new educational models, as it enables different aspects of the most current approaches, such as the use of new technologies, self-management, and responsible decision-making. It is an approach that not only attaches importance to learning curriculum content, but also to developing other skills and competencies.
More specifically, blended learning:
- Makes personalized and meaningful learning possible, and learning as an experience. Students progress by being guided by their reality and interests, characteristics, motivation, and achievements.
- Is geared toward learning standards, i.e. the knowledge, skills, and abilities that correspond to each subject according to grade level.
- Focuses on mastery, known as mastery learning. The use of digital media allows you to obtain all the evidence needed for learning analytics.
- It moves toward the optimal development of each person’s potential, to develop talent.
- It attaches great importance to interpersonal relationships. Teachers guide, the student body is the protagonist, and it creates a collaborative space that is a genuine learning community.
- Makes meaningful and personalized learning possible by turning it into an experience
- Targets learning standards based on subject matter and grade
- It focuses on mastering learning, i.e. the mastering of subjects
- It is moving toward the optimal development of each student’s potential: All people have talent
- It makes it possible to create a genuine learning community in which students collaborate and are the protagonists.
By definition, blended learning combines the benefits of traditional and online learning, but what are those benefits?
Online teaching allows teachers to customize teaching and students to set their own learning pace. Each student can connect anytime, anywhere, to the platform, and spend the time they need for studying and activities because the content is always available.
In addition, in the online world it is very easy to monitor student activity and measure their progress, as well as to collect their feedback.
On the other hand, the online format makes it easy to connect resources and activities to each other. Learning becomes an ongoing and interactive process.
Classroom or in-person teaching enables work dynamics in which face-to-face collaboration and socialization play a major role, which is fundamental to the socio-emotional development of students. In addition, teachers can guide and support each student, encourage them to move forward, or have them review a point when necessary.
The combination of classroom and online activities will provide teachers with a wider range of possibilities, which together with proper planning will allow you to get the best of both worlds.
What kinds of blended learning exist?
There is no exact theoretical classification of blended learning models, as it is a flexible model by definition.
The point of reviewing the different types of blended learning that exist is to discover all the possibilities offered by this methodology. The combinations are endless: There are models where classroom training is emphasized, while other models are more focused on online learning.
Some approaches not only combine semi-classroom and online learning, but also integrate individual activities and synchronous group learning. Perhaps the best-known kind of blended learning is the ‘flipped classroom’, an education modality that has become very popular for the excellent results it offers.
Get to work: How to get started with blended learning
To put this methodology into practice, you basically need three things: A strategy, digital content, and a digital platform on which the content is published and where you manage the learning teaching process as if it were in a classroom – a Learning Management System (LMS).
Many schools and universities already use such platforms. As for content, there are several possibilities: Teachers can create their own resources, update existing content, or reuse content that the teaching community shares.
These steps will help you create your own blended learning strategy.
What do you want to achieve and how are you going to achieve it?
You can start by defining what and how, that is, what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. It’s about defining what information we want to get to students and what skills we want them to develop, as well as the tools and strategies we’ll use to achieve this.
When we talk about blended learning, it is essential to take into account the issue of internet access. What media does our school have? What about our students? The plan must consider the circumstances of each student, as well as the means available to the school.
What will the learning process look like?
The next step will be to define which parts of learning will take place using traditional methods and which parts will incorporate the use of new technologies. Your experience makes it easy for you to decide which of the resources and dynamics you use work best and which parts your students get stuck on. It’s a good time to make changes!
Learning usually includes a theoretical part and a practical part. When you follow a blended learning strategy, you multiply both the content formats and the possibilities of delivering this content.
For example, the most obvious from a traditional point of view is that theoretical explanations are in-person, but you can record yourself on video and put the practical part into the classroom, even including team dynamics.
When defining the learning sequence, it is essential to calculate the time required to complete the process, and also to balance work in and out of the classroom. To take full advantage of the benefits of blended learning, the strategy should allow sessions to be reconsidered on-the-fly based on student needs.
It is essential to have planning that reflects what the student should do in each environment, the classroom and the virtual environment. You should have a weekly study plan that measures out your daily tasks and explains to the student what the step-by-step instructions are, what the objectives are, what is expected of them, and how they will be evaluated.
Some examples of blended learning provide students with a video to watch at home before the start of a topic, and some questions are asked to evaluate their initial knowledge. This information will allow classes to be designed with the students’ knowledge in mind, thus optimizing classroom classes.
What content do you need?
Interactive content, of course. Interactivity is fundamental in a blended learning approach, where students are expected to build their own learning. Even if you use a more ‘passive’ format like videos, it is important to do so so that students can interact, for example, by answering a few questions in the middle of the video or at the end.
You can create new content or recycle existing content by refreshing it to suit this approach.
Genially is the all-in-one tool for creating interactive and animated content. With Genially you can create presentations or video presentations, guides, interactive images, gamifications such as quizzes or breakouts, and all kinds of digital educational materials.
Including interactivity and animation will make your content more engaging and more effective. And Genially offers many other benefits to the educational community:
- You can insert any content format into a genially: Videos, audios, documents, images, GIFs… Your educational content can be as exciting and engaging as you want!
- Sharing your geniallys on any educational platform is possible and very easy. Genially integrates with Moodle, Canvas and Google Classroom, as well as other tools like MS Teams or WIRIS.
- Genially offers thousands of templates designed by professionals. No matter what content you need to create, you don’t have to start from scratch. You’ll always find various templates and resource options to make your ideas a reality.
- In the ‘Inspiration’ section there are many educational resources that other teachers have shared. In addition to being amazing content, they have the great advantage of having already been tested. Most are reusable, take advantage of them for your class!
- Would you like the entire school to take this innovative approach? The Genius Centers initiative offers schools a tailored plan to use Genially and make learning interactive.
Recycle your old content
Did you know you can import your Power Points into Genially? You can edit them to add interactivity and animation effects very easily. In a short time, your content will become much more attractive.
Already have the content ready? Let’s go!
Ask for feedback
Your student’s feedback is the best improvement factor. You can ask them to fill out a questionnaire to give their opinion or propose a class discussion on what they have learned, what they liked most, and what they would improve.
Improving the process from these opinions is the way to create a successful blended learning strategy. According to teaching experience, mixing classroom learning with digital exploration works very well to motivate students, balance different learning rhythms without forcing or limiting anyone, and improve overall outcomes.