What is blended learning? a flexible approach mixing different learning environments such as face-to-face instruction with remote technology-mediated instruction.
A relatively new learning methodology, blended learning combines the inspiration and motivation of traditional classroom teaching with the flexibility of e-learning, based on transparent communication amongst all parties involved in the course. Using various methods, techniques and resources such as videoconferencing, smart-phones and other emerging electronic medias blended learning creates an interactive learning environment.
Blended learning allows learners and teachers to work together in deciding what, where, when and how they learn, providing the students with more personalised choices and instructional content which makes learning independent, useful, sustainable and ever growing.
There are no rules in place to prescribe what the ideal blend might be. The term “blended” encompasses a broad continuum, and can include any integration of face-to-face and online instructional content, also called a hybrid course. It is up to the course designer to decide how the blended course should be proposed, choosing which parts are online, and which ones are offline (classroom-based instruction), depending on the analysis of the content, the needs of the students and the available resources.
For example, when teaching a language, an instructor can decide to use all audio-based activities (listening comprehension, oral expression) in the classroom where all text-based activities will take place online (reading comprehension, essays writing).
The number of hours per class varies according to the course, the fact that it is online doesn’t necessarily means that the number of hours is lower.
There are various advantages to blended learning; Increased access to education by offering a greater flexibility for students, improved learning experience using a mix of technologies and interactions through the integration of face-to-face instruction with virtual learning communities, and the test and assess of new pedagogies that center around active, inquiry-based resource-oriented learning. When using computer-mediated educational tools, the learners community can interact at any time and anywhere which result in a socially supported constructive learning experience.
You can check out the complete discussion about the negative and positive possibilities of blended learning on edchat site.
flickr photo : first day of school by nomanson