How Does Blended Learning Work in CTE?
As a CTE curriculum developer and provider, the term "blended learning" is a big part of our daily dialog here at AES. It’s what we believe in, and it’s how we encourage teachers to use our curriculum.
When teachers are reviewing our eLearning curriculum and we talk about blended learning, we are often asked questions like: “What is blended learning in CTE?” and “How are other CTE teachers successfully implementing blended learning in the classroom?”
While trying a new teaching technique can quickly take you out of your comfort zone, blended learning is much easier to start than you think… and it’s well worth all of the benefits you and your students receive!
In this article, I will share the following about blended learning instruction:
- What is blended learning?
- 6 advantages of blended learning for CTE courses
- How CTE teachers use blended learning
What is Blended Learning Instruction?
Blended learning mixes various teaching techniques, learning styles, and delivery methods. In most cases blended learning combines a mix of classroom meetings and content delivered via some form of online platform. In a blended learning classroom, the students have some control over the pace of their learning. Essentially, blended learning instruction combines two pieces:
Face-to-face classroom meetings: In a blended approach, face-to-face meetings are often used to introduce or reinforce concepts, as well as to focus on hands-on skills practice and collaborative activities. For any CTE teacher, these face-to-face meetings are extremely important - even if you plan to use digital resources.
Online learning: Online delivery is used to provide additional content when paired with face-to-face meetings. While digital curriculum is frequently what you see in blended learning, it is not the only method. Blended learning can also use curriculum via videoconferencing, satellite TV, online discussion groups, podcasts, chats, and social media.
Both of these pieces combined into the learning experience is what makes a classroom “blended.”
6 Advantages of Blended Learning for CTE Courses
It’s one thing to know what blended learning is, and another to actually implement it and do it well. So what are the advantages of blended learning, and how are CTE teachers using it?
1. Blended Learning Helps When Lecture and Demonstration Aren’t Enough.
Reginald Patterson teaches computer classes at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, Florida. Business&ITCenter21 is one tool that Reginald uses to alleviate some of the challenges he faces. Due to the variety of materials and his style of teaching, using the curriculum as one of his blended learning resources was a perfect fit.
Reginald describes Business&ITCenter21 as another learning opportunity for his students. He appreciates that the engaging lessons in Business&ITCenter21 can help students develop “a deeper knowledge of what we’re trying to learn” when lecture and demonstration aren’t enough.
To learn more about how the curriculum helped Reginald to incorporate blended learning and better differentiate instruction, read the case study: How a Computer Applications for Business Teacher Easily Saves Time
2. Blended Learning Helps Students Prepare for Certifications.
At Shaw High School, Lakesha Kirkland is meeting standards and helping her students to succeed by using blended learning. At the beginning of each section, Lakesha does an introduction and tells her students some things to look for while doing the module in the system. Then, students sign on and start working through the eLearning curriculum. When going through the digital lessons, her students are able to work at their own speed. At the end of a section, Lakesha does a review or discussion with the class and then they take the test.
Business&ITCenter21 has been a successful blended learning resource for Lakesha and others in Muscogee County. Not only does it meet her standards but, it has also increased their Microsoft Office Specialist certification pass rates. How are the students doing? In 2014, Shaw High School was number one in Georgia for most MOS certifications.
To learn more about how students have succeeded by being able to work at their own pace, read the case study: Certification Success with Blended Learning Curriculum Resources
3. Blended Learning Provides a Different Way to Cover Material
William Graham is a business and computer science teacher at Holcomb Bridge Middle School. There’s nothing so valuable as to have a fellow teacher explain how they use, integrate, and modify a resource in their own classroom. William usually starts class with a lecture or discussion time and uses the PowerPoints within Business&ITCenter21 to support those discussions. After discussion time, students log in and go through the eLearning lessons.
He sees this rhythm as a great way for students to learn the material in multiple ways. Using eLearning curriculum in this blended way is like having a second teacher reinforcing the content he has gone over:
“They’ll hear me talk about it. Then they have a backup. Have someone else go over that same material, but in a different way... It’s almost like having a teacher’s aide. I’m teaching the class, but then they have someone else to help me teach the class also”
To learn how William can better differentiate his lessons by using a blended learning approach, read the case study: Using eLearning Curriculum with Diverse Classes and Student Abilities
4. Blended Learning Meets Diverse Student Needs.
Stephanie Avery, a health science teacher at Father Patrick Mercredi High School, uses a truly blended approach in her classroom. She mixes online learning with workbooks and activities that she’s developed, along with traditional lecture.
With her students ranging in age from 15 to 18, Avery emphasizes:
"I need to teach. Some of the more complex content requires more than just one touch with online learning.”
So, blended learning is ideal for her courses. Students are learning in a variety of ways, including online, teacher-led lecture, clinicals, hands-on activities, and PowerPoints.
To learn more about the benefits Stephanie is getting from using a blended learning approach, read the case study: Blended Learning Provides Many Benefits for Health Science Courses
5. Blended Learning Frontloads High-Level Content for Students Before Class
Health Sciences High and Middle College is a remarkable public charter school in San Diego. With the technological ease of digital curriculum, Jeff Bonine successfully teaches college-level curriculum to his 10th grade students. How?
Among other things, the eLearning program he uses puts the content into context. This helps bring understanding of complex material to students that might otherwise struggle with college level concepts. After students go through the assigned eLearning content, Jeff reviews what they’ve learned and in some cases, delves a little deeper. He makes sure to spend time answering any questions that may come up so students have a good understanding of the more detailed topics.
“HealthCenter21 provides strong areas of content. I am comfortable that if students go through this, that when they come to lecture, I don’t have to spend time going over a lot of the basics, we can delve into more detail or more practice with the content. They go through it, then we practice, manipulate, and talk about content.”
To learn more about how the students are benefitting from the inclusion of eLearning curriculum, read the case study: Blended Instruction with eLearning Helps Health Science Students Succeed
6. Providing Variety with Blended Learning Keeps Students Engaged
Sharie Cato and Sue Ellen Shealy teach Health Science at Gilbert High School. Like many CTE teachers, they struggled with student engagement until they tried blended learning. Sharie stresses that it is important to integrate many different activities into your lesson plans to keep students engaged and interested. Using blended learning to mix in a variety of resources helps keep student engagement up.
Both instructors use HealthCenter21 as an important piece of their curriculum. They have found that using the eLearning program gets students more invested in their learning because it it more self-directed than just doing lectures and discussions.
To learn more about keeping students engaged with blended learning instruction, read the case study: eLearning Curriculum Helps Students Take Responsibility for their Learning
Using Blended Learning in CTE Gives You the Best of Everything
As you’ve seen in these examples, your comfort zone of lecturing certainly has its place in the blended learning environment - an important place. Blended learning doesn’t mean throwing away everything you’ve done up to this point. It simply means creatively and intelligently incorporating additional techniques, methods, and delivery options into your lessons. The blend of techniques will engage and challenge your students in the best ways possible!