When I first heard the term blended learning, this is what immediately popped into my mind:
I had thought that my experiences with blended learning pretty much came down to the pandemic teaching experiences where we were in class and then online constantly due to fluctating case numbers and random classroom shutdowns. However, in class last week Katia showed us this diagram that is super helpful in defining blended learning. And, as it turns out, blended learning is much more than what I had originally thought! I had not realized that face to face learning while using technology classroom aids was considered blended learning. So, with this new definition in mind let’s start!
Now that I better understand what blended learning is, I have realized that there are many ways that I use blended learning in my classroom. Some examples of my usage are:
- Using gamified learning to help engage students and vary how we are learning and reviewing topics – some examples include Kahoot, Blooket, and Quizizz
- Using technology to make learning accessible for my students – using Google Read and Write as well as my in classroom microphone/PA system
- Using technology to adapt to students’ needs – using a variety of tools and online ressources to help my students find information at their level
- Stations/Rotations – using a modified daily 5 format which includes 1-1 time, independent work, and tech time
- Building connections – using platforms like Zoom to communicate with community members and learn from others, we Zoom with our school’s Elder a few times every semester.
As you can see from the ways I used blended learning, it can be a very useful format for face to face classes! Aside from the ways I utilize blended learning in my room, there are also benefits to using other models of blended learning that incorporate even more technology usage outside of the classroom. Some benefits of using any form of blended learning include:
- Provides a safer learning environment for students who are needing to spend more time working at home due to medical or social issues
- Increases student engagement
- Can help to imrpove student understanding and comprehension due to a variety of instruction forms being utilized
- Provides students more autonomy
- Make better use of instruction time that is face to face
- Facilitate the gathering of data so that teachers can spend less time correcting and more time doing the things that matter – like building relationships
Although blended learning can be quite usefull in the classroom there are still some challenges that could occur. For example:
- Motivation – students may feel less motivated if the format requires them to complete lots of work independently at home. This could also impact student participation and attendance.
- Technology knowledge – it is possible that students (and teachers) will stuggle with using the technology, platform, or websites properly and efficiently
- Technology trouble – let’s be real, there is ALWAYS some issue with technology not working properly at one time or another
- Digital divide- not all students have access to technology tools and internet outside of the school. It can also be expensive to provide the technology needed at school.
- Training – teachers need to know how to properly create and implement the blended learning program that they are utilizing. This could be more difficult depending on the teacher’s experiences, comfort levels with tech, and how much of the course is being completed online.
How about yourself? Do you see yourself as a blended learning whiz, or a newbie? What benefits and challenges have you had while using blended learning?
3 thoughts on “Blended Learning & Me”
I had exactly the same thoughts when I first heard the term blended learning. I feel slightly relieved to realize that blended learning is something we’ve been doing for years in our classrooms and not something simply brought on by the pandemic. Ever since pandemic teaching, whenever I hear anything about online, hybrid, synchronous/asynchronous learning, I get feelings of panic and stress and it’s not an experience I ever want to relive! Now looking back on it, and having a clearer understanding of what blended learning is and how it relates to teaching through covid, I’m able to remind myself that these are not new concepts. I wonder if the pandemic was an opportunity to allow some of these teaching methods to evolve, or if it has hindered their growth due to any negative pandemic experiences.
In reading your post, I immediately realized that I had been using blended learning the whole time as well. Some classes were not as blended as others, but after our class last week, I felt that the pandemic improved my use of technology in my classroom. I still believe some students thrive with the use of technology, but others do not. Just like in the regular classroom, every student learns differently. I also totally agreed with all the benefits and challenges you listed.
Great post. I like to think I am an intermediate blended learning teacher. In the challenges you mentioned teacher training and I couldn’t agree more. I typically have integrated tech/apps in ways that I have used socially, am comfortable with, or that have been taught to me by a PD presenter or by a colleague. I don’t usually go seeking new tech fads or tools to use in classrooms. This isn’t because I don’t find them valuable, it is simply a matter of restricted time as a teacher, mother, partner, etc. Thanks for sharing!