Changing a classroom environment can be a daunting task—especially when it comes to introducing a blended learning program. Whether referred to as blended, mixed, or hybrid learning, this type of program allows educators and students to take advantage of the connections that face-to-face instruction builds, combined with the convenience, independence, and personalization that online learning provides. This flexibility is what makes a blended learning program so valuable, yet also tricky to understand and implement. However, with research, planning, and teamwork, blended learning can be key to tailoring the learning experience to meet every student’s individual needs at the right time and in the right modality.
To help you understand blended learning and decide if it’s right for you, Edmentum’s virtual program manager Tony Skauge has compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions he receives from our customers. Over the next few weeks, we will be answering each of these questions to walk you through the phases of getting a blended learning program up and running in your school or district. Today, we’ll start by covering four questions to help you understand what blended learning is.
- What research is out there regarding the effectiveness of blended learning in the classroom?
More and more research is being done to help measure the overall effectiveness of blended learning, and that research is working to not only measure student test scores, but also other elements that relate to overall student success. Elements such as graduation rate increases, decreased drop-out rates, and increases in daily attendance are just some of the ways that researchers are working to define the impact of implementing blended learning strategies in the classroom. One great example of this research is a list released by the Clayton Christensen Institute in conjunction with the Evergreen Education Group titled “Proof Points: Blended Learning Success in School Districts.”
- I want to begin using blended learning strategies within my classroom, where should I start?
Creating a blended learning environment can initially be overwhelming, but using the backward design process to first determine coherent program goals/success metrics is a great place to start. From there, begin by looking at your available technology resources (iPad tablets, Chromebook laptops, etc.), your available space, and which content you anticipate using in your blended learning environment. Once you have established your resources, you can begin looking at which blended learning models may be a good fit for you and your students. Additionally, our Edmentum Services Team can help guide you through the process of creating a blended learning program plan and refine existing blended learning implementations.
- Would a blended learning model fit into an “alternative learning” setting?
Alternative learning settings are terrific places to implement blended learning models, and integrating a new learning model can often have a positive impact on student learning outcomes. Of the four common blended learning models, many alternative learning settings that I have worked with utilize either the Flex Model or some combination of an À la Carte and Enriched Virtual Model to help give their students both flexibility and increased access to content. Giving students in an alternative learning setting the ability to control some aspect of pace, place, and time can really serve to empower students who may not have otherwise felt that way in the traditional classroom.
- Where does student data fit into the picture in a blended learning classroom?
The ability to gather meaningful and accurate student data that you, as an instructor, can easily interpret to make more informed classroom decisions is a key piece of what makes blended learning so effective. Using technology in the classroom affords educators an opportunity to gather and utilize student data in a much more efficient way. Ideally, student data is used to help shape and guide and instruction for both the individual student as well as for the entire class on a daily basis. Blended learning environments are centered around giving students online content/instruction with some element of student control over pace, time, path, and the place in which they which they work. Gathering and using student data is one of the many positive outcomes of implementing this type of instruction in your classroom.
Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we will answer questions surrounding the planning phase of starting a blended learning program. In the meantime, take a look at this blog post to learn more about how to engage students with blended learning, and check out this brochure to find out how Edmentum’s online solutions can help!