Blended learning will play a significant role in classrooms of the future. Here’s why educators should embrace it.
In the early days of online education, most people viewed it as a substitute for classroom learning. This contributed to the pushback online education has often faced. People like face-to-face learning, and the idea that it would be gone forever was, understandably, alarming.
However, if there’s anything we’ve learned about how education preferences affect actual learning outcomes, it’s that face-to-face learning isn’t going anywhere. While a full online classroom might be necessary for some people and in some situations, it will never replace in-person learning.
At the same time, it’s hard to imagine a future of education where online learning isn’t playing a significant role. The benefit in terms of cost-effectiveness and accessibility—not to mention the insights that can be gleaned from learner data—are simply too important to ignore.
Instead, the future of learning lies in combining the two. Blended learning helps classrooms transition from in-person to online and back again seamlessly, so that instead of choosing between either/or, learners and instructors can reap the benefits of both/and. Let’s take a look at seven of the major benefits blended learning has to offer.
1. More efficient use of teacher preparation time.
Traditional learning requires a lot of redundant work. Teachers must continually print handouts, repeat lectures, and perform administrative tasks that, in an online system, might otherwise be automated. All of this work takes away from the time they could be spending with learners, addressing their individual needs as they engage with the course material.
In a blended learning course, the routine and repetitive tasks are automated or stored in a sharable format. Students can access course materials wherever they are, and teachers are spared unrewarding busy work.
2. Learners can better access materials for study and review.
Blended learning also gives learners a centralized place to access learning materials. In a traditional lecture scenario, students have to take notes in order to save information for later. While note-taking can help learners organize and remember material, it can also be a distraction from the lecture content. Learners without good note-taking skills, who have a hard time hearing the professor, or who can’t write fast enough to keep up can fall behind.
But online learning lets learners review material as much as they like. They might still take notes during an online lecture, but unlike in a classroom, they can then re-watch the lecture and compare their notes or fill them in as needed.
3. Teachers spend more time engaging with students.
When teachers don’t have to spend their entire class time on delivering a lecture, and when various administrative tasks have been automated, it frees them up for higher-value time with students. That can mean more engagement in the classroom, more time working with learners individually, or more time reviewing written assignments and giving individual feedback.
4. Class time is devoted to active learning.
Listening to a lecture, whether online or in person, is a passive learning activity. As we touched on earlier, learners have to gain a new skill (how to take effective notes) before they can transform the passive learning of listening to an active learning of reforming and recording. But in a blended classroom, teachers can spend more time in open discussion, set group tasks, or create practical scenarios to help learners put their new skills to use.
5. Teachers can adjust their in-class material to fit their audience.
Every class has a different group dynamic. Some may have stronger discussion leaders, while others engage well online but want to use class time for hands-on tasks. Some may be interested in one aspect of the material, while others want to spend more time on a different application. Blended learning gives teachers more flexibility in adjusting taught material to match what their students are interested in.
6. Online quizzes help with exam preparation.
Short quizzes help learners test their knowledge, show them where they need to focus study time, and even improve their memory retention. Teachers can run quizzes in class, but they still need to grade them, and this is both time consuming and leads to a delay between when a learner takes a quiz and when they receive feedback. Online quizzes can test learner knowledge more efficiently, and they even allow for multiple attempts if a learner wants to really drill themself on the information.
7. Teachers and learners have more autonomy.
For adult learners especially, a sense of autonomy and control over their learning experience is essential for success. Old habits are hard to break, and its still common for adult-oriented classes to give adults the level of autonomy on the same level as a child. Blended learning breaks free of that paradigm by giving adults and learners more control over their course content.
Blended learning is more effective than traditional learning.
The benefits listed above all add up to one inevitable conclusion: blended learning is a more effective option than either in-person or online alone. It is more efficient for teachers, more effective for students, and more rewarding to both. Organizations that learn to embrace the benefits of online learning can create stronger programs and achieve better outcomes. That’s the best reason anyone has for making the switch.