The Educational Evolution towards Blended Learning
There have been significant changes in the educational field within the last few decades. One of the most noteworthy is the implementation of blended learning. Previously, learning would take place through the use of written materials (primarily textbooks and reference books) and a classroom environment featuring a teacher who facilitates learning verbally through lectures.
At early as the 18th century, correspondence courses were developed to allow learners to learn remotely, but they simply removed the social component and instead relied exclusively on written materials.
What is Blended Learning?
But as technology has improved, so have the possibilities for incorporating various forms of media into the learning process. Blended learning involves the integration of various mediums to facilitate learning. These mediums can include visual and audio elements made available through technology combined with in-person, classroom instruction. This is the typical definition of blended learning, but with so many options due to today’s technological advances, blended learning continues to evolve to incorporate an increasing number of educational mediums.
Blended Learning for Workforce Development
When it comes to professional training, blended learning has revealed a whole new world filled with practical and cost-saving options to inform and educate work staff. The American Probation and Parole Association offers a variety of online courses for those who work in community corrections to take. Some of these courses may require participants to log into to interact with the course instructor and other students. This can be considered a form of blended learning, because it combines technology and social interaction to impart and reinforce learning.
Why Utilize Blended Learning?
Blended learning has come to be an effective way for students to receive education. Let’s discuss the potential benefits of blended learning:
- Blended learning accommodates a variety of learning styles. Just as humans are unique in their personalities, their learning styles can differ as well. There are 7 accepted learning styles: visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary. It is possible to combine techniques specific to each learning style in one blended learning course.
- Blended learning can be more interactive than traditional classroom learning. If you’ve ever attended college or a work conference, you know that it’s possible for an instructor to talk for 2-3 hours with very little interaction from the audience. Because blended learning incorporates a variety of educational mediums, it is often more interactive and requires more participation from learners. This can help to increase learning and reduce boredom.
- Blended learning can offer increased accessibility. In-person learning can be time-consuming and schedule restrictive, because it requires all participants to meet at the same location at the same time. A blended learning approach can make it possible for many more learners to participate in a way that works for them. It helps to eliminate obstacles to learning.
- Blended learning can increase reception to and extend retention of course material. Many students are excited or intrigued by the opportunity to learn via various platforms. If they attend a classroom lecture or training session and know they will have to interact in a forum setting online as a follow up, they will be more likely to pay attention to the information being presented in person. Additionally, the follow up will help to flesh out and solidify the process of learning within their own brains as it is reinforced through numerous formats.
- Blended learning can reduce education and training costs. Education is costly, but the implementation of blended learning has allowed educational institutions and employers to trim costs without cutting opportunities. Blended learning has proven to be a cost effective alternative to in-person education. In community corrections, this method has been particularly useful for increasing the number of training options available to pretrial, probation, parole and residential corrections professionals who require ongoing workforce development. Likewise, it has opened doors for the educational world to provide better education at a reduced cost. Although originally used in university settings, blended learning is now being utilized for primary and secondary education due to its effectiveness and economy.
Although the concept of blended learning may be new to some, it is quickly taking hold as the new standard for improved education and training. Utilization of blended learning thus far has indicated some remarkable advantages.
What has been your previous experience with blended learning? What are the benefits? What are the disadvantages?