What is blended learning?

“Blended learning is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or place.” (Wikipedia)

  • A part of the learning occurs online, allowing the student to work at their own pace
  • Another part of the learning is teacher-led, maybe through webinars, allowing learners access to the teacher and fellow students. This part can also be done in a more traditional classroom environment.

In essence each learning style is complementing the other and together they create an integrated learning environment.

  • Face-to-face teaching
  • Remote learning
  • Discussion groups
  • Lectures
  • In-class computer lessons
  • Group break-outs in and around the classroom
  • Supervised online learning

As with any program there are advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages for teachers:

  • Teachers are able to save on lesson planning and tweak easily for different classes.
  • Lesson analytics and reports are often incorporated in the technology, giving insight into pace and learning.
  • The variety of lessons helps to improve student engagement.
  • They can focus on the teaching and learning of the students.
  • Lessons can be saved so students can go through them again for revision or to check any misunderstandings.
  • Automated marking software can help to make assessment more immediate and also helps to save the teacher time.
  • Lessons can be more environmentally friendly because less paper may be required.
  • The ability to capture data through the software- helping to make reporting to parents easier.

Advantages for students:

  • Students can work from anywhere and at their own pace (more personalised).
  • Students who need more support can receive it in ‘break-out’ rooms.
  • Blended learning may save the student money as they would be able to access the curriculum online thus not needing to purchase textbooks.
  • More opportunity for instant feedback to their learning.

Disadvantages:

  • Poor internet connections could hamper teaching and learning.
  • Outdated devices could make learning difficult.
  • Group work would need a little extra organising.
  • Electronic feedback can be more time-consuming than the traditional approach of written work.
  • E-learning platforms and resources can be costly.
  • Updating infrastructure- internet provision, hardware and software can take a long time and be costly.

Keys To Effective Online Classroom Management

The move to online learning is somewhat new and it has its share of challenges for many teachers all over the globe.  

Whether learning remotely or in an actual classroom, effective classroom management is crucial in achieving a productive study environment. Although students are no longer staying in a single room, teachers should take the necessary steps in managing behaviour and engagement in an online setting.

Essential skills for online teaching include:

  • Clear communication- so teachers, students and parents all know the expectations.
  • Using tools like checklists to help students organise homework, assignments or coursework.
  • Having a simple but effective marking/feedback system.
  • Creating a sense of community- have a shared ‘page’ so messages to the group can be seen by all. Also have a way students can message you the teacher privately too.
  • Creating group activities enabling students to work collaboratively (helps students to not feel so isolated).
  • Creating engaging lessons with lots of interactivity (if possible).
  • ‘Online class rules’- as you would have in a bricks and mortar class so students know there will be consequences if they are not following them.
  • Creating routines- again as you would have in a bricks and mortar class. Set times for when assignments need completing- keep this as consistent as possible so that it helps the students stick to a ‘routine’ at home.
  • Recognising student achievements.

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