Why blended learning makes sense for education providers
Singapore, November 2, 2016
The growing uncertainty and complexity in the world today demands a nimble and adaptable workforce to meet the demands of the 21st century economy, making lifelong learning more crucial than before.
Indeed, learning does not and should not stop when one leaves school. A growing body of research already suggests a disconnect between the demands of today’s global economy and what students are prepared to do when they graduate. The need for graduates to hone their problem-solving skills early on is increasingly critical for career success.
To support lifelong learners, education service providers have been delivering online learning programmes to reach out to professionals who may not have time or energy to make their way to a learning centre after a long work day.
In recent years, however, more institutions are implementing blended learning that combines online learning with regular classroom instruction, extending physical learning environments into virtual learning spaces and creating classrooms without boundaries.
In addition, blended learning makes it possible to bring in external experts through the Internet to teach and interact with students in a physical classroom, something that was almost impossible previously.
Here's why blended learning makes perfect sense for education providers:
Free up class time
According to the NMC Horizon Report 2015, blended learning is on the rise. The report noted that “schools that embrace blended and hybrid learning models are finding that online learning environments offer different but complementary functions to physical institutions, and can potentially be used to free up class time for activities that make the most from face-to-face interactions in the same space.”
Complement classroom lessons
Blended learning can also take place in a flipped classroom. What this means is that instead of delivering lectures in class, students will engage with content such as online videos and interact on discussion boards outside the classroom. These asynchronous modes of learning appeal to students who prefer to consume course content at their pace and follow up with comments and questions to instructors and classmates. And when students eventually meet in the classroom, instructors will take on a bigger role as facilitators to help students engage with course content and with one another on a deeper level.
More effective learning
As learners can learn at their own pace, along with the ability to skip content that they may already know, blended learning can slash learning time and improve content retention. According to a study by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, teachers reported that “blended learning benefits students’ procedural skills development” and enables students to better recall facts.
The effectiveness of blended learning can be improved further with innovative learning spaces that cater to both distance-learners and on-campus students. In such environments, microphones, video cameras and mobile furniture can be set up to support and bring both groups of students together in a common learning space. This is sometimes known as polysynchronous learning, which combines face-to-face, asynchronous, and synchronous online communications.
Promote self-directed learning
In a blended learning environment, goal-setting is necessary to motivate students and promote
self-directed learning. According to the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation study, schools that had goal-setting practices in place helped to promote a sense of accountability and ownership among students over their learning process. According to a majority of administrators and teachers interviewed in the study, “weekly goal-setting helped students to become more invested in their learning and to see both the rewards of meeting goals and consequences of failing to meet them”.