Blended learning refers to the delivery of formal education through a thoughtful combination of online learning and delivery of content and instruction with varied degree of student control over time, place, pace and with face-to-face encounter done in a brick-and-mortar setup, such as the school (Staker and Horn, 2012).
There are four main models of blended-learning with differences on how much time or of the content or instruction will be delivered online or done via face-to-face interaction in a normal classroom. These models are the enriched-virtual model, self-blend model, flex model, and rotation model (with more types under it – station rotation model, lab-rotation model, flipped-classroom model, and individual rotation model).
A number of studies have been done in various K-12 schools around the world which showed how blended learning had impacted student achievement and the improved the quality of instruction. Classrooms have been flipped to enhance learning and to give more time for practicing of skills in the classroom and for giving high quality and meaningful feedback to learners. The setup of chairs, tables, and computers in the classroom has been dramatically modified to accommodate the various learning stations needed for students to fully experience the positive effect of blended learning.
In the Philippines, De La Salle Santiago Zobel has been utilizing the power of blended learning under their successful Next Generation Blended Learning Program. In my school, while blended learning has not been officially adopted, flipped classrooms have gotten some teachers creating their own instructional videos and using apps such as EdPuzzle. Mr. Keith Sy, one of the Ed Tech champions in our school has created some awesome videos for his Social Studies class. He successfully infused a station rotation setup and at the same time, giving more opportunities for differentiated learning activities to happen. Read some of his experiences with flipped classroom in his blog. Watch a one of his flipped videos about Philippine History here.
One noticeable observation is that a number of schools have chosen to leverage the use of technology tools to enhance self-directed learning and instruction in students and the need for the teachers to interact with students to provide feedback and to build meaningful relationships with the students through face-to-face interaction. And I believe that the beauty behind blended learning is the big possibility to fuse the possibilities of technology integrated lessons and content delivery while highlighting and dedicating more time to build relationships with students via face-to-face encounter.
So, while schools chew on the question whether to blend or not to blend, I present some more specific questions that can help stakeholders or members of the school community as they explore this form of education.
- Why do blended learning? What is the “why” of the school? What are the “why’s” of the various stakeholders? Why now?
- How will blended learning help students achieve the intended learning outcomes?
- Are the students, teachers, and parents ready for a blended approach?
- How will student’s age, readiness or even developmental maturity affect the adoption of blended learning?
- Which blended learning model is appropriate for students?
- How will blended learning modify or change classroom instruction, assessment, management, and lesson preparation?
- What kind of support will teachers need in order to be prepared for the adoption?
- What kind of resources will the students and teachers need for blended learning to happen
- Are the stakeholders and members of the community capable of acquiring the technology needed? Are there provisions to help those who may encounter problems regarding the technological tool needs?
- What new policies will be placed to ensure that blended learning is maximized for the good of all members of the school community?
The promise of blended learning has been slowly realized in schools or institutions that have adopted it. Blended learning is far from being a hype among the members of and stakeholders in the education community. It is here to stay.