Whew! There certainly is a LOT of information available on blended learning…..A LOT! I searched, read, highlighted, re-read, searched again, printed, typed, listened, proofread, searched again, read some more….and this is what came of it!
My literature review.
Teachers wish for their students to be successful. The traditional way of instruction is outdated and not optimal for this generation of learners. Today’s students are digital natives-born after 1980 into a digital online world. They now influence everything from pop culture to politics, and much research suggests that this generation of young students thinks, works and learns in a very different way from previous generations. (Eisele-Dyrli, 2009). What can we do as teachers to best educate these digital natives? Introduce the blended learning model into the classroom and have a positive effect on the students of today.
What is blended learning?
There are varying ways to define blended learning, but almost all definitions are similar to the Horn & Staker (2015) definition: Blended learning is any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace. Blended learning has many faces and different models. A brick and mortar structure is still required as is a quality teacher for personal interactions. However, blended learning allows students and teachers to break free of the isolation of the classroom (Imbriale, 2013).
Types of blended learning
There are four main models of blended learning: Rotation, Flex, A La Carte, and Enriched Virtual Model (Powell, 2015) . The Rotation Model includes four sub-models. The flipped classroom is one sub-model. This is when instruction is delivered prior to students meeting with the teacher. Flipping a classroom allows for more class time to create projects rather than listen to lectures. Another sub-model is station rotation, where all students will rotate through different stations. There is also the individual rotation model where the stations are personalized per student. The lab rotation sub-model is probably the most widely used model. This is where students leave their classroom and go to a computer lab for online course work.
The Flex, A La Carte, and Enriched Virtual Models are very similar in structure. The difference is mainly on how much face-to-face instruction each model provides. The Flex Model incorporates the most face-to-face time. The A La Carte Model requires the least amount. The Enriched Virtual Model is somewhere in-between.
Conditions for success
Blended learning is having a positive impact in schools and districts across the country (District Administration, 2016). However, there are many conditions that must be in place in order for blended learning to be successful. Most important is for the district, school, or classroom to have a plan. Students also will need devices to connect to online learning sources. An infrastructure that is capable of handling the technology is a must. Another condition is that students need adequate computer skills (Llorente, 2015). Without adequate technology skills, devices will go unused. Teacher and administration training is necessary for successful implementation of a blended learning environment. One factor that influences the success of a blended learning implementation is teacher and administrator “buy-in.” After all, the teachers will be the ones that ultimately are responsible for the content the students will be accessing. Face-to-face interaction is a vital component to blended learning. It is true that the technology plays an important role in blended learning, but technology is just a tool to enhance learning.
Why incorporate the blended learning model?
Blended learning and the use of technology prepares students for the future. Digital technology is adaptive and may be used to create personalized instruction. Studies show that the ability to collaborate is going to be more important in the future than content knowledge (Cox, 2013). Creating a blended learning environment encourages collaboration. 21st century learners will need 21st century skills. The blended learning model mimics what jobs in the “real world” require of their employees, so students leave school more prepared for the job market. Learners in blended classes were found to have a higher motivation to learn than those in traditional classes (Klein, Noe, & Chongwei, 2006).
There are challenges that face the implementation of blended learning in schools. According to the Horizon Report (2016), access to high-speed internet is not equally distributed across schools, hindering efforts to scale personalized learning across K-12. The cost to supply student devices may be overwhelming for some school districts. Although, according to Rentroia-Bonito, Goncalves, & Jorge (2015) e-learning brings the promise of delivering cost-effective education in an innovative way by improving pedagogy, resource-allocation, content development, student access practices, potential cost reduction and revenue growth. Another challenge is the change in itself. A move away from the traditional school setting can be difficult for teachers and administrators to accept.
Greg Green (2012), the principal of Clintondale High School in Michigan states that the flipped approach was so successful among a class of students that they decided to implement the model in the entire school. Two years ago the failure rate was 61.2 percent; after just one quarter, the school-wide failure rate dropped to just below 10 percent – a reduction of 50.4 percent!
Troy Faulkner (2013), math department chair at Byron High School in Minnesota says that flipped learning has been a success with teachers, students, and parents at Byron High School. In surveys administered by the math teachers, 87 percent of parents and 95 percent of students said that they preferred flipped learning to the traditional lecture format. “More students are now taking the higher-level math courses because their overall proficiency has increased,” said Mr. Faulkner.
An experiment on blended learning implementation was carried out at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad, Russia during the academic year of 2015-2016. Twenty-two students that specialized in chemistry used the blended learning model to learn the English language. The overall goal of the experiment was to find out whether blended learning could be a fruitful educational tool. There were some frustrations with technical difficulties, but in summary, it should be noted that the advantages of blended learning implementation undoubtedly outweigh its disadvantages (Andrejeva & Ostroverkhaia, 2017).
Ryan Imbriale (2013) says it best with this statement, “blended learning is no magic potion, but it allows students and teachers to benefit from a wealth of digital resources and allows teachers to develop learning paths that are tailored to the needs of each student.” Technology is such an integral part of students’ everyday lives. Blended learning should filter into the classroom to make learning more authentic and meaningful. The blended learning model definitely has a positive effect on the education of present-day students.
(2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report > 2016 K-12 Edition | The New Media …. Retrieved from https://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-cosn-horizon-report-2016-k-12-edition/
Andrejeva, N., & Ostroverkhaia, I. (2017). Learning to learn with blended learning. European Scientific Journal, 13, 193+. Retrieved fromhttp://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=j161909&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA499916678&asid=d936f424f4eb7d3e5bf51c23f850eb5a
Cox, Janelle. (2016, November 23). Why Your Classroom Needs Digital Technology. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/why-your-classroom-needs-digital-technology-4114178
Eisele-Dyrli, K. (2009, November 1). Educating Digital Natives | District AdministrationMagazine. Retrieved from https://www.districtadministration.com/article/educating-digital-natives
Faulkner, Troy. (2013). Flipped Learning Model Increases Student Engagement … – Pearson. Retrieved from https://assets.pearsonschool.com/asset_mgr/current/201320/Byron_standalone_casestudy.pdf
Green, G. (2012, October 3). The Flipped Classroom Turns Around an At-Risk, Failing School…. Retrieved from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2012/10/the-flipped-classroom-turns-around-at-risk-failing-school/
Horn, M. B., Staker, H., & Christensen, C. M. (2015). Blended: using disruptive innovation to improve schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Imbriale, R. (2013, February). Blended learning. Principal Leadership, 13(6), 31+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=j161909&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA373033316&asid=c6e5f9eae870e88d76850cede03bbe7e
Klein, H. J., Noe, R. A., & Chongwei, W. (2006). “Motivation to learn and course outcomes: the impact of delivery mode, learning goal orientation, and perceived barriers and enablers.” Personnel Psychology, 59(3), 665-702. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2006.00050.x
Llorente, Ana Maria Pinto, et al. “To Be or Not to Be Successful? That Does Not Only Depend on Technology, But Also on Human Factors.” Journal of Cases on Information Technology, vol. 17, no. 1, 2015. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=j161909&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA416552418&asid=a9b18a35deb2d48419e22ad29814ce39. Accessed Sept. 2017.
The next generation blended classroom: increasing achievement in middle and high schools: active and personalized learning, technology and curriculum can lead to accelerated outcomes. (2016, April). District Administration, 52(4), 20+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=j161909&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA449929370&asid=0800e267921e5cc873cf2fac6e1ddea9
Powell, A., Watson, J., Stanley, P., Patrick, S., Horn, M., Fetzer, L., …Verma,S. (2015, July). Blending Learning: The Evolution of Online and Face-to … – iNACOL. Retrieved from https://www.inacol.org/resource/blending-learning-the-evolution-of-online-and-face-to-face-education-from-2008-2015/
Rentroia-Bonito, Maria Alexandra, et al. “Clustering Students Based on Motivation to Learn: A Blended Learning Approach.” International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, vol. 7, no. 3, 2015. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=j161909&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA424714260&asid=df70a073d99fa7534273a2e24994b0cd. Accessed Sept. 2017.