Blended learning: what is it?
Blended learning might be a term you have heard of but might only have a basic understanding of what it is and how to implement it. During the coronavirus pandemic blended learning is taking a precedence in schools with a mix of online remote learning and face-to-face lessons.
In this article, we explain what blended learning is, look at examples of blended learning and flipped classrooms and link to a range of useful resources.
What is blended learning?
There are a range of different definitions available. The University of Leicester define it as:
“Blended learning is when traditional classroom teaching is combined with online learning and independent study, allowing the student to have more control over the time, pace and style of their learning.”
The Open University defines it as the following:
“Blended learning usually refers to a course that includes both online and face-to-face elements.”
The blended approach will usually bring together three core elements:
- Classroom-based activities with the teacher present
- Online learning materials
- Independent study materials provided by the teacher, either online or in hard copy, to reinforce concepts or develop skills
This blend of activities means that the teacher also has a blend of roles, adding a ‘facilitator’ element to their roles as they organise and direct group activities, both online and offline.
What is a flipped classroom?
The flipped classroom is an approach in which direct instruction moves from a whole class learning space to an individual learning space at home. The University of Leicester describe it as a pedagogical model where:
- Lecture (lesson) and homework elements of a module are reversed
- Online lessons are viewed by pupils at home before coming to the lesson
- The lesson is devoted to discussion and activities
Blended learning: examples from schools
Blackfield Primary School are developing both blended learning and flipped classroom learning opportunities in their curriculum. They have developed the following INSPIRE principles:
- Innovation: classroom environments accommodate learning to support either group work or independent study with readily accessible IT and interactive spaces
- Nurture: teachers are flexible in their expectations of pupil constructed learning timelines and in their assessments of pupil learning maximising classroom time in order to enable all children to be successful
- Success: instruction is deliberately shifted to a learner-centred approach, where in-class time is dedicated to exploring topics in greater depth, creating rich learning opportunities helping children to develop conceptual understanding, as well as procedural fluency
- Passion: teachers are reflective in their practice, connect with each other to improve their instruction and accept constructive criticism in a desire to drive learning and develop their own practice
- Integrity: teachers determine what they need to teach and what materials children should explore on their own. During class time, teachers continually observe, providing children with live, relevant and specific feedback
- Responsibility: Teachers take on less visibly prominent roles in the classroom but they remain the essential ingredient that enables flipped and blended learning to secure individual, measurable and rapid rates of progress
- Excellence: Children are actively involved in knowledge construction as they participate in and evaluate their learning in a manner that is personally meaningful
Blended learning scheme: Chromebooks
The Priory School is implementing a blended learning scheme which will involve the use of ChromeBooks for pupils. It explains:
“Students will be able to take responsibility for their own learning, allowing the school to extend education far beyond the four walls of the classroom. We have already seen fantastic evidence of this during the COVID-19 pandemic after loaning out over 140 of our ‘pilot scheme’ Chromebooks to allow students to work from home.”
Parents of all new Year 7 pupils starting will receive a blended learning pack from the school.
Resources to support
- How to get Blended Learning Right for September, TES
- Developing Blended Learning Approaches, JISC
- Flipped Learning, NESTA
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