Blended Learning: Balancing Technology with Traditional EducationWith the aid of modern technology, it’s possible for students to trade their classroom chairs for sofa cushions or café seating or any other comfortable place that might create an environment for more self-directed learning. 

The internet provides boundless opportunities for learning outside of the confines of a physical classroom. It’s each school’s and each educator’s choice to either utilize this tool or to retain traditional learning structures in opposition to it. 

But that’s not to say the two methods of learning must be at odds, and some schools and policymakers have certainly taken notice of the potential for distance-learning to support, rather than compete with classroom instruction.

Best of Both Worlds

The educational strategy that combines a traditional classroom environment and internet technology is formally known as “blended learning.”  There are four main versions of such a program, each of which blends remote and in-person learning in different proportions and by different means.  The Self-Blend model relies upon online courses just as a supplement to ordinary schooling, which still comprises the majority of their education.

The Rotation and Enriched-Virtual models encourage a more equitable blend of online and traditional education, with students either switching between the two strategies for large blocks of time or dividing their daily schedules to accommodate each.

On the other extreme, the Flex model of blended learning focuses on teaching remotely, allowing students a great deal of autonomy in their scheduling and their approach to learning, and utilizing traditional, in-person education in a supportive role. In this case, teachers’ hands-on experience with students might serve to conduct testing and otherwise check benchmarks for progress, as well as gauging the responsiveness of individual students to the material.

Learning Styles

The obvious objection that might be raised against this technologically-influenced style of teaching is it limits personal attention from instructors and threatens to leave children adrift without direct, hands-on guidance. But it may be that part of the reason why children tend to benefit from personal attention is it encourages the teacher to accommodate personal learning styles rather than striving to teach everyone in the same way and at the same pace.

If so, the same end can be achieved in other ways, without tethering the child to a classroom chair. The particular benefit of blended learning is it allows students greater autonomy over their education, and thus a greater sense of being active participants in it. As long as an essential source of structure guides the student’s coursework and helps him to improve outcomes beyond what would be achieved alone, the personal educational freedom of the internet can actually enhance the student’s interest in his education while providing him the opportunity to pursue that education in the ways that suit him best.

These types of strategies are seemingly gaining traction as technology is emphasized more and more as a tool to help build the future of education. But it may turn out that more can be gained by integrating technology outside of the classroom than within it.

Now that you know more about blended learning, you can learn more about the shared roles of both home software and classroom chairs. Guest post written by Michael.