Whether you teach in an elementary school, college, or corporate training program, you have probably heard of blended learning, which is an umbrella term for using technology in teaching. There has been a lot of debate about whether blended learning is beneficial for students, or if it is just distracting. However, there has also been a lot of research, and both the data and the success stories fall on the positive side.
Here are some main advantages of blended learning, for both you and your students.
Benefits of blended learning for students
- Digital skills. Digital skills are absolutely necessary today, for everyone. Elementary students need to be ready to take high-stakes assessments on the computer starting as young as third grade. College students need to develop digital literacy to successfully navigate the online world. And job seekers need a solid collection of digital skills on their resumes. Through blended learning, students learn both the course subject matter and the essential digital skills of today.
- Better learning. Many studies have been done on the effectiveness of blended learning. Overall, the results have shown that blended learning is better than either fully in-person or fully online learning environments. For helping students reach their learning outcomes, a blended learning format takes the cake.
- Improved communication.While technical skills are in high demand in the workplace, soft skills like communication are a very close second. Today, much of our communication takes place digitally—email, text messaging, social media, blog posts, and so on. In the business world, more companies are using tools like online videoconferencing and webinars. Blended learning helps students master these important communication skills before they are called upon to use them in the workplace.
- Increased engagement. Attention spans are short, and students today are accustomed to being constantly engaged and entertained. Incorporating computers and other technology in the classroom provides increased engagement for students and teachers alike.
Benefits of blended learning for teachers
- More engaged students. Increased engagement is a huge benefit for teachers as well. Students who are more engaged learn more, which means they are more likely to reach their learning outcomes and succeed on assessments. This can be very important in schools where teachers are evaluated based on their students’ success.
- New teaching techniques. Blended learning provides teachers with the opportunity to try out new pedagogical techniques. By giving them a wider range of tools, blended learning allows teachers to be creative and teach better, more interesting lessons.
- Flexible scheduling. In some environments—like college and workplace training—blended learning allows teachers to have a more flexible schedule. Just like students can learn using the computer, teachers can teach using the computer. This can provide them with more options and a better work-life balance.
- Professional development. Teachers have been some of the most enthusiastic adopters of online technologies for professional development. In fact, teachers make up a large percentage of students in massive open online courses (MOOCs) as well as a large percentage of people who participate in work-related Twitter chats. If you are looking for a flexible, powerful path toward professional development, simply head online.
There are a few disadvantages to using blended learning as well. For example, the technology can fail, leaving both teachers and students out in the cold. And not everyone is equally technically savvy, so blended learning can be nerve-wracking at first. But things like this are minor compared to the huge advantages blended learning has to offer.
If you have never used blended learning before, now is a great time to give it a try. You can start by posting some of your course resources online or creating an online quiz. But be warned: once you try it, you won’t be able to go back to your old ways.