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Future of Blended Learning to be Continuum of Personalized Learning, Report Says

Future of Blended Learning to be Continuum of Personalized Learning, Report Says

Though blended learning is a key buzzword in the current world of education, experts are torn on its benefits as a learning model. Yesterday, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) released a report detailing the evolution and the success of blended learning from 2008-2015 and predicted its future in education.

The paper, titled Blended Learning: The Evolution of Online and Face-to-Face Education from 2008-2015, seeks to define blended learning, its models, and successful case studies using it over the years.

The report defines blended learning as a hybrid learning model that "combines the best features of traditional schooling with the advantages of online learning to deliver personalized, differentiated instruction across a group of learners. Students in formal blended learning educational programs learn online part of the time, yet have the benefit of face-to-face instruction and supervision to maximize their learning and to best fit their own needs."

It then set out to define the four learning models that typically are associated with blended learning: Rotation, Flex, A La Carte, and/or Enriched Virtual.

In a rotation model, students alternate between online instruction, pen and paper instruction, and small-group instruction to get the best results from the lesson. This model has several different sub-sets that the paper also explores: station rotation, lab rotation, flipped classroom, and individual rotation.

In a flex model, online learning is "the backbone" to instruction. Students learn in a brick and mortar school from face-to-face teachers and are provided with online learning based on individual needs.

The a-la carte model is similar to the flex model in that online learning is individualized, but it does not have to be a part of instruction in the brick and mortar setting and can occur off-site, making it not a part of the whole school experience.

The enriched virtual model includes some face-to-face instruction, but most learning occurs off-site and coursework completed online.

The report than looks at different case studies that experienced positive effects from using each separate learning model and summarizes the lessons learned about the future of blended learning in education.

"The program descriptions in this report provide evidence that there is no single type of blended education model. Over time, we can expect a range of models to become part of the blended learning continuum contributing to more personalized learning pathways," the report said.

In the report's conclusions, it finds that blended learning is not merely a technique, but rather a representation of a shift in classroom instruction to more personalized learning. It urges schools to focus on correct technology implementation- as all of the schools in its case studies experienced some barrier at some point or another- and professional development to help facilitate blended learning in its classrooms.

The use of computers and online learning in education requires a much larger shift in thinking than simply adding a few computers or other devices to classrooms. True blended learning requires that teachers approach their roles differently—as coaches, concierges, guides, and mentors, instead of purveyors of information. Classrooms will be structured differently as flexible learning environments, in which students learn in a variety of ways while communicating and collaborating with others who are outside their school—and perhaps outside their country.

Read the full report here and comment with your thoughts on blended learning below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

07/09/2015

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