The Beginner's Guide to Blended Learning (with 5 Real-World Examples)
I get a lot of questions from busy teachers about using blended learning.
There are dozens of ways to design and implement blended learning in a classroom, all of which may work for your needs.
Still, all blended learning strategies share two fundamental steps — tools and implementation.
We'll cover both of them below.
Step 1. Get the Tools
To start using blended learning in your classroom, you need the right tools.
Specifically, the right tools for you.
If you already teach a traditional class, you likely already have some really great tools.
But you might be missing an online tool.
(That doesn't mean you have to take your class fully online though. Blended learning is a great way to incorporate online learning in small doses, if that works best for you.)
While looking over possible tools, it's important to consider what they add to your class and your students’ experiences.
If you don't, you could wind up using technology just for the sake of using technology — and that doesn't help anyone!
At AES, our goal is to provide the best teaching technology to promote blended learning. After all, it's proven that blended learning is one of the most effective ways to help students learn.
Specifically, we offer tools in the form of HealthCenter21 and Business&ITCenter21.
But tool creators — like us — can only craft the tools.
The most important part of blended learning is how you use the tools you have.
Step 2. Use Your Tools
You have a million ways you can use blended learning tools to get the results you want.
But with so many options, how do you decide?
We've gathered some blended learning examples from our teachers to kickstart your creative process.
Example 1. Instruction and Supplement
One of our teachers uses HealthCenter21 as part of beautifully-choreographed lesson plans that include project-based learning, group work, and portfolio work.
Then, as students finish assignments from the instructor, they're directed to HealthCenter21 to start individualized work.
This teaching style is the perfect example of blended learning. It starts with the teacher taking control of their classroom with traditional instruction.
This gives the class a sense of structure and authority, which is essential for a positive learning environment.
Even better, it's the teacher's opportunity to talk about their expertise in a personalized, helpful way for students.
After the instruction, HealthCenter21 gives students the chance to work at individual paces and supplement what they've already learned.
This use of technology allows students to retain information better than a typical lecture-based class. Students work at their individual paces, which means everyone learns at the best speed for them.
It's true you'll have some students who work ahead and others who fall behind in this scenario.
You can solve that problem by setting a schedule of goals for students to hit each week. That keeps them on track, and it gives them a vision of where they're headed.
It also lets them review the information they need after a lesson concludes.
Overall, it's an excellent way to engage and re-engage students so they retain as much information as possible.
"I love it. I really, really like the program. It’s another tool to use. It addresses differentiated instruction for the independent learner. We do a lot of project-based learning and group work, so this tool adds a refreshing change. It’s a great supplement."
Example 2. Tools, Workbooks, and Lectures
Stephanie Avery is a health science teacher in the Science and Technology program at Father Patrick Mercredi High School in Alberta, Canada.
She uses HealthCenter21 to mix online learning with workbooks and activities that she’s developed (plus a lecture for good measure).
With her students ranging in age from 15 to 18, Stephanie says blended learning is the best way to help as many students as possible.
Now, her students learn in a variety of ways. This change in gears promotes engagement and prevents students from losing focus in performing the same actions over and over again.
Specifically, Stephanie's process looks like this.
When students are assigned online work in HealthCenter21, Stephanie makes herself available to students.
She walks around the classroom answering questions that come up. She’s a facilitator during these moments, or as she describes, “I’m still here, but they are doing the work.”
While she facilitates, she asks questions back to her students, as well.
If students struggle with concepts they’ve learned online, this strategy lets Stephanie see which materials they can review online and what she needs to cover in a different format.
The results are astounding. Stephanie helps the students who need it most, and other students can progress at their own paces.
The key is knowing what HealthCenter21 does well for her teaching style.
Once she figured that out, she passed the benefits onto her students.
Example 3. Online Learning and Offline Application
Lillian Willis teaches information technology at Princeton Community Middle School in Cincinnati, OH.
Lillian's blended learning process introduces her students to concepts online and then lets them experience the concept offline.
She has her students go through a unit in Business&ITCenter21. Then, she assigns a project outside of the software so they can apply and demonstrate what they learned.
With that in mind, Lillian frontloads her classes with Business&ITCenter21.
The software contains audio elements that read on-screen text to students. It's helpful for students who prefer to read along with audio cues, especially if English isn't their native language.
“The software reads to them, so it helps their comprehension. They can go back and replay something that they didn’t get the first time.”
Lillian also uses the real-time feedback feature of Business&ITCenter21 to show her students where they went wrong and what they can improve.
Best of all, Lillian says Business&ITCenter21 doesn't just help her students in the classroom — it also prepares them for standardized tests, where they encounter similar questions in similar formats.
Example 4. Tools, Teams, and Long-Term Learning
Sue Lefler teaches Allied Health Technology classes at Auburn Career Center in Concord Township, OH.
Sue uses HealthCenter21 and blended learning to help education "come alive" for her students.
A typical class begins with bell work to get students focused. That usually features medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, or medical math.
Most of the time, that material comes straight from HealthCenter21, though it's not always on a computer.
After bell work, she assigns her students a unit from HealthCenter21 to start the learning process.
She also customizes her own projects and topics in HealthCenter21 so that she can keep all of her teaching materials in one place.
In fact, Lillian has her system refined to a science. Every unit gets a new project that could be a real-life scenario, invention assignment, research task, or investigation work.
Conclusion: Blended Learning Works in Different Ways
While everyone approaches blended learning a little differently, they all have similar features:
- Teacher direction
- Online or tech-based component
- Self-paced learning
- Application projects
So we know blended learning works.
We just have one last question.
What makes blended learning so important?
Why Is Blended Learning So Important?
Blended learning is unquestionably good for students.
Blended learning allows for:
- Student engagement
- Classroom flexibility
- Performance assessments
With all of that in one education strategy, who could say no?
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