Blended learning: the best of both worlds
Posted by Susannah Harrison on August 24, 2018
Going digital allows you to expand the reach of your training while lowering the investment of time and money. For some areas of learning however, it just can’t replace face-to-face interaction. This is why a blended learning strategy is the best approach for all kinds of training needs.
Blended learning is an education process that combines face-to-face, instructor-led teaching with digital training elements. A digital course can cater for independent work elements such as rote learning. This leaves more time for interaction and practical activity in face-to-face tutorials.
Students may be asked to complete a virtual lesson before a face-to-face one. Having an introduction to the concepts makes classroom teaching more profitable because there’s already a level of understanding to go from. They can then use another online task after the lesson to consolidate what they have learned.
Creating and launching learning materials online is simple with a good learning management system. Your users can log onto their own accounts to access virtual lessons, their own records of achievement and any extra materials in one place. You can also access data on their progress and manage your courses through your own login.
How is blended learning being applied?
A language course is a good example of this. The student can use an online learning course to memorise vocabulary and grammar rules outside the classroom, so that the teacher can devote more face-to-face teaching time to conversation practice. Formal educators are increasingly taking up this approach, with apps and sites such as Duolingo and Quizlet making up a part of the syllabus in schools.
Engineering training at Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) has benefitted from a blended learning approach. Students complete lessons on theory digitally, which leaves more of their contact time for the practical training they can’t access remotely.
Dynamic blended learning
Blended learning makes a wide range of active learning elements – including forums and quizzes – easily available.
Forums are useful for any digital course, but they come into their own when users have met face-to-face first. Communication then feels more natural, and users are comfortable asking each other for advice or opinions. Unlike solely classroom-based discussion however, digital forums provide a more comfortable platform for users who might be shy to speak out in a group. They can also pose questions whenever they occur to them, rather than forgetting them before the next class.
An easy way to gauge learners’ information retention and understanding is through a quiz. Many learners find written tests in silent exam conditions a panic-inducing reminder of school, but online quizzes are different. Users can complete them in a relaxed environment and receive instant feedback. The instructor will also be able to access their students’ results, without the time spent marking. A good approach is to set a short quiz regularly, rather than longer ones which might become a chore.
Finally, having a digital learning platform means that you can provide your learners with all sorts of additional learning materials easily and immediately. Linking them to helpful videos or articles is simple when there is a forum or chat set up already in place, or an easily accessible course home page.
Blended learning makes the time you already spend on face-to-face teaching much more profitable. It also radically increases the range of learning materials you can offer your learners. For more ideas on teaching methods that you can implement digitally, take a look at microlearning and gamification.
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