What is blended learning? It’s the style of learning wherein numerous educational tools are used to convey a message. Accordingly, blended learning solutions include a combination of both “physical” and “virtual” resources. The accessibility of electronic apparatus has spurred interest in this model of learning, thus leading to an outpouring of blended learning research. This style of learning is also referred to as “hybrid learning” or “mixed learning.” Such a combination of multiple approaches can include electronic format classes, traditional classroom sessions, self-paced instruction, and collaboration software tools, among other processes.
History of Blended Learning
The idea of blended learning materialized long before the emergence of computers and widespread Internet usage. The contemporary educational market’s intense focus on technology merely served as a catalyst that formalized the idea of blending learning. As the educational market gathered information on the many ways in which humans gather and process information, they likewise began to understand how to cater to the needs of diverse groups of people seeking easy-to-access educational resources. Consequently, blending learning became a bridge between those important goals.
Traditional Teaching Methods
The most traditional style of teaching is the physical format, where teachers and students formally interact in the classroom. This face-to-face communication is known as instructor-led training. Yet, throughout history, different technologies aided classroom learning in critical ways. Examples of past technologies include audio tapes utilized in language laboratories. Those audio tapes allowed students of foreign languages to listen to speakers and to practice simulating that verbiage.
Other professors manipulated movie projectors, television sets, and music to supplement daily lessons. Currently, computer-based software, such as PowerPoint presentations and PC-based films are also utilized to relay messages to the learning community. Outside of the classroom, teachers have also relied on guest speakers, demonstration resources and field trips as ways to punctuate topics of interest and vital significance.
Technological Developments and Learning
It is obvious that technology has broadened the scope of learning. This has made the concept of blended learning far more effective, efficient, and compatible with modernized thinking and learning initiatives. Interestingly, technology-based training first arrived at the fore of educator thinking during the 1960s and 1970s, when mainframe computers were introduced to the business market.
History then, has established the pace for the trend of learning and the incorporation of tehcnology into the learning curve. For this reason, when people think of blended learning, some think of “hybrid learning” and “combined resource” teaching methods. Those concepts are extremely simliar, if not identical, to the concept of blended learning.
Technology Uses for the Physical Classroom
Technology does not need to be restricted to virtual formats, meaning that it can even be incorporated into the physical classroom. Physically based students benefit from blended learning because they are able to interact online and to receive feedback in a relatively secure space.
Physically based students may use technology to stimulate learning through the usage of wikis and weblogs. A wiki is a type of website that, when used correctly, will promote and stimulate collaborative editing and creation of relative new electronically composed text. Wikis allow users to add, create and/or otherwise edit existing content of a website. Weblogs also promote written exchanges of information in an online format. Unlike wikis, however, weblogs are comparable to virtual diaries. The blogger, or online author, links other websites to that site. The linked sites are percieved as appropriate, interesting and relevant to the current topic. In contrast to a wiki, which tends to be organized by content, a weblog is structured by time.
Discussion boards also promote technology-integrated learning for physically based students. Formats such as Blackboard and WebCT promote online discussions. Professors may post questions that stimulate discussion. Students may then respond to the post.