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The Definition Of Blended Learning

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Blended learning is an approach to learning that combines face-to-face and online learning experiences.

The Definition Of Blended Learning

by TeachThought Staff

What is the definition of blended learning?

Think for a moment about some related practices and phrasing: Blended education. eLearning. Remote learning (and remote learning tips). Hybrid learning. Flipping the classroom.

All of these practices involve learning, the concept of place or distance, and the use of technology. Whatever one chooses to call it, blended learning combines classroom and online education. And because of improvements in both school curriculum and digital technology, as a learning model it continues to gain momentum. While education experts continue to debate the efficacy of hybrid learning, its existence has challenged them to re-evaluate not just technology’s place in (and out of) the classroom, but also how to reach and teach students more effectively.

That alone is one of the major benefits of blended learning (and a common focus of blended learning resources).

The Definition Of Blended Learning

Oxford Dictionary Definition Of Blended Learning: a style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching.

Defining hybrid or blended education is a trickier task than one might think–opinions vary wildly on the matter. In a report on the merits and potential of blended education, the Sloan Consortium defined hybrid courses as those that “integrate online with traditional face-to-face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner.” Educators probably disagree on what qualifies as ‘pedagogically valuable,’ but the essence is clear: Hybrid education uses online technology to not just supplement, but transform and improve the learning process.

That does not mean a professor can simply start a chat room or upload lecture videos and say he is leading a hybrid classroom. According to Education Elements, which develops hybrid learning technologies, successful blended learning occurs when technology and teaching inform each other: material becomes dynamic when it reaches students of varying learning styles. In other words, hybrid classrooms on the Internet can reach and engage students in a truly customizable way. In this scenario, online education is a game-changer, not just a supplement for the status quo. But what does this theoretical model actually look like in practice?

The Definition Of Blended Learning: Blended learning is an approach to learning that combines face-to-face and online learning experiences. Ideally, each (both online and off) will complement the other by using its particular strength.

Context: While generally seen as a ‘trend’ in ‘progressive learning,’ Blended Learning can also be viewed as a kind of relic symbolic of the gap between ‘traditional education’ (for the last century or so in brick-and-mortar schools and classrooms) and connected and digital learning. This, of course, implies that digital-only is the future and the ultimate incarnation of learning, which is a short-sighted view. The point, though, is that blended learning is a mix of old and new as much as it is a mix of physical and digital learning.

Types of Blended Learning: The Flipped Classroom, Hybrid Learning You can read more about the most common types of blended learning, if that’s useful.

Contributing Factors: Rise of digital and mobile learning technology

Related Educational Concepts: Project-Based Learning, Growth Mindset, Design Thinking, Robotics

Related Cultural Trends: eLearning and distance learning; the shift from ‘television’ to ‘YouTube’, growth of social media, working from home/remote offices

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Blended Learning Tools & Resources: Google Classroom, YouTube, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Moodle, Blackboard

Examples of Blended Learning: Students doing face-to-face group work in a classroom, then going home to analyze that work and turn in a video as an assessment form; taking a course online, then receiving face-to-face tutoring between online lessons

In the course of higher education, blended or hybrid learning is a snazzy, yet relatively new tool and not all professors use it the same way. Trends have emerged, however.For instance, most professors in blended classrooms use some version of a course management system application to connect with students online. Blackboard and Moodle are perhaps two of the best known LMS applications used today but slowly are being supplemented–or bested–by cloud-based content and learn ing management systems. Through platforms like these, students can access videos of lectures, track assignments and progress, interact with professors and peers, and review other supporting materials, like PowerPoint presentations or scholarly articles.

Even if all professors used the same platform, however, they could each integrate them into their classrooms differently. According to a report on the subject by the Innosight Institute, professors could supplement traditional coursework with online media in the classroom, or simply alternate between online and classroom instruction. Perhaps one of the most recent–or at least most widely covered–hybrid teaching models is what Innosight calls the ‘online driver’ method, or, as it has come to be known, ‘flipping.’

How Hybrid Classrooms Are Redefining Education

Years ago, NPR and other media outlets caught wind of a relatively new education model called ‘flipping,’ which is really just an adaptation of the definition of blended learning. In a traditional classroom, instructors use class time to lecture and disseminate support materials. Students then review these materials and complete any assignments at home, on their own time. With some luck, teachers will review those assignments in class the following day, or at least host office hours so that they can field questions and offer support.

‘Flipping’ defies these conventions. In this method, teachers and professors use online media to deliver notes, lectures, and related course materials. Students review these materials at home and at their own pace. Classroom periods are then transformed into hands-on work periods where the teacher–who will have already delivered his or her lecture digitally–is free to field questions, engage class-wide discussions or offer other means of support. ‘Blended learning seems to reinforce student-centered learning, allowing students to master content in an individual way. But is it effective?

Can blended learning–whatever the application–truly transform education as we know it?

Does Blended Learning Work?

Not all students learn the same way. This is not a particularly novel concept, but it is an important one. The tech publication PFSK notes that even early childhood education programming, like Sesame Street, recognizes this, and therefore design programming in a way that reaches auditory, visual, and kinetic learners alike. Students never outgrow their learning styles, so why do traditional college classrooms fail to engage all of them?

This is blended learning’s real strength: it transforms a largely transmissive method of teaching–say, a professor lecturing for what feels like an eternity–into a truly interactive one. The definition of blended learning sounds ideal on paper, but does it work? A 2010 meta-analysis published by the U.S. Department of Education suggests it does. According to the report, students exposed to both face-to-face and online education were more successful than students entirely in one camp or the other.

Is There A Catch?

Of course, no educational model is one-size-fits-all, and some hybrid classrooms are probably more effective than others. According to a scientific literature review published by the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, a number of factors impact the success of hybrid learning. Teachers must be committed to and well trained in blended and hybrid education and its technologies, and students must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in this new environment.

This post was originally published in 2012 and updated in 2020; This is a cross-post from onlineschools.com; image attribution flickr users celtkeene2 and andrewstarwarz

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Four Stages Of A Self-Directed Learning Model

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self-directed learning stagesFour Stages Of A Self-Directed Learning Model

by TeachThought Staff

Self-Directed Learning is not new–but is perhaps misunderstood.

In the linked post above, Terry Heick wondered about the relationship between self-directed learning and the purpose of education:

The goal of the model isn’t content knowledge (though it should produce that), but rather something closer to wisdom–learning how to learn, understanding what’s worth understanding, and perhaps most importantly, analyzing the purpose of learning (e.g., personal and social change). It also encourages the student to examine the relationship between study and work–an authentic ‘need to know’ with important abstractions like citizenship and legacy.

Studied in terms of adult education and vocation for years, self-directed learning is increasing in popularity for a variety of reasons, including growing dissatisfaction with public schooling, and the rich formal and informal learning materials available online. This is the ‘age of information’ after all.

Self-directed learning is one response, something slideshare user Barbara Stokes captures in this chart, based on the model by Gerald Grow. The four stages–very similar to the gradual release of responsibility model–appear below.

The Four Stages Of The Self-Directed Learning Model

Learner                            Teacher

Stage 1   Dependent        Authority, Coach

Examples: Coaching with immediate feedback. Drill. Informational lecture. Overcoming deficiencies and resistance.

Stage 2:  Interested          Motivator, Guide

Examples: Inspiring lecture plus guided discussion. Goal-seting and learning strategies.

Stage 3:  Involved             Facilitator

Examples: Discussion faciliated by teacher who participates as equal. Seminar. Group projects.

Stage 4:  Self-Directed     Consultant, Delegator

Examples: Internship, dissertation, individual work or self-directed study group.

Theories of Teaching and Learning: The Staged Self-Directed Learning Model, G.Grow. from Barbara Stokes; Four Stages Of A  Self-Directed Learning Model

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The Benefits Of Competency-Based Assessment

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The Benefits Of Competency-Based Assessment

contributed by David Garrick, Dean of Graduate School of Education, UCDS College for School Culture

The general idea behind a competency-based assessment is that it provides students and families with specific feedback about student performance that can lead to a clearer understanding of progress and skills gained over time.

As Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the UCDS College for School Culture, I’ve gained a unique perspective on the possibilities that competency-based assessment can provide. Students who attend University Child Development School (UCDS) in Seattle don’t earn A’s, B’s, or F’s. Instead, student assessments are communicated through our own set of competency-based continua for various subjects.

These continua, paired with narrative communication with students and families, make up the school’s framework for assessment, based on skill progressions. I’ve seen the benefits first-hand in Pre-K through elementary classrooms, and also in training at the graduate level.  

By providing specific information about the academic and social skills students exhibit, schools provide detailed and actionable information. This empowers students in their learning and educators in their teaching practices. Here’s a general overview of the benefits of competency-based assessment.

Building Competency-Based Assessments: The Benefits

1. Improved clarity & transparency

Greater clarity allows teachers and families to identify areas of strength and areas where students may need additional support. In all cases, these assessments provide teachers with detailed knowledge about student progress that can be used to build individualized goals and educational plans.

In addition to evaluating proficiency in these domains, teachers should regularly share comprehensive feedback individual student accomplishments and struggles. For example, UCDS teachers provide narrative commentary to families where they focus on how a student engages within each domain, as well as notable accomplishments and struggles.

Focusing on comprehensive feedback brings clarity to the learner, and clarity to the family about what’s happening in the classroom. Letter grades don’t show the full picture (suggesting alternatives to letter grades), and a competency-based model is better equipped to provide students, families and future schools with clear information about each student’s social and academic progress.

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2. More seamless personalization of learning

Through Competency-Based Learning, educators have a better chance to provide a deeper view into each student’s learning attitudes and strategies and can provide resources that best support individual needs. This type of information is key to understanding the unique modes, strategies, and coaching to which each student responds best. This is the foundation of personalized learning.

3. It helps shift towards a culture of assessment

To successfully adopt competency-based strategies, teachers and administrators must first reevaluate assessment. While traditional forms of assessment (i.e., exams and quizzes) are valuable when placing students on a general scale of progress, they don’t show the whole picture. Making changes to assessment can be daunting for some educators, especially those who have been using traditional assessment practices throughout their career. It can also be a shift for parents to evaluate their student’s performance without a grade.

It’s important that teachers pursue resources and professional development that introduce different methods of assessing student progress, and why they hold value. As every teacher knows, the learning never stops – and by staying on top of current trends, curriculum can be adapted to meet every students’ needs.

4. Students better understand their own learning profile

Through comprehensive, competency-based assessment methods, teachers can help students to reach college and career readiness with greater self-knowledge about their learning approaches and needs. Working from a continuum of skills ensures that every student is being challenged in a way that is appropriate to what they want and need to learn and that educators can give individualized support as needed to help them move forward.

Removing the stress of being placed on a tiered grading scale shifts the focus back to learning, while building the confidence to make mistakes. Students take ownership of their learning. They feel empowered when mastering a skill and learn to identify what’s next.

Conclusion

For teachers, competency-based assessment brings depth and value to curriculum. With the focus shifted away from letters and percentages, students become more involved in long-term progress and are more apt to become engaged and take risks while learning.

Ranking students based on undefined competencies and then using that rank to determine their future prospects and contributions is a practice best left to past eras. Competency-based assessment provides more detailed information that promotes better-targeted teaching and learning for all parties involved.  

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5 Learning Strategies That Make Students Curious

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Causing curiosity in students boils down to knowing that student.

5 Learning Strategies That Make Students Curious

by Terry Heick

Understanding where curiosity comes from is the holy grail of education.

Education, of course, is different than learning but both depend on curiosity.

Education implies a formal, systematic, and strategic intent to cause learning. In this case, content to be learned is identified, learning experiences are planned, learning results are assessed, and data from said assessments play some role in the planning of new learning experiences. Learning strategies are applied, and snapshots of understanding are taken as frequently as possible.

This approach is clinical and more than a smidgeon scientific. It arrests emotion and spontaneity in pursuit of planning and precision, a logical trade in the eyes of science.

Of course, very little about learning is scientific. While data, goals, assessment, and planning should all play a role in any system that purports to actually accomplish anything, learning and education are fundamentally different. The former is messy and personal, painful and fantastic. The latter attempts to assimilate the former—or at least streamline it as much as possible in the name of efficiency.

An analogy might help. (I love teaching with analogies.)

learning : education :: true love : dating service

True love may very well come from a dating service, and dating services do all they can to make it happen, but in the end—well, there’s a fair bit of hocus pocus at work behind it all.

Hubris & Education

Education is simultaneously the most noble and hubristic of all endeavors. There are two minds to every educator. This may all reek of sensationalism, but watch anyone at play, honing a craft, lost in a book, or engaged in a digital simulation and you’ll see a completely different person—one there physically, but far removed in spirit.

In a better place.

Causing this in a classroom is possible, but is as often the result of good fortune than good planning. The best substitutes that can masquerade as curiosity are dutiful compliance and engagement. Neither of these are curiosity, which has among its sources a strong sense of volition, accountability, and curiosity.

Here, let me try.

I want to show you what I can do.

I want to know.

And that last one—a sign of curiosity–is a bugger, one we’ve talked about before. Like the caffeine in coffee, the chords on a guitar, or the wet in water, genuine curiosity is not a thing, it’s the thing.

Not temporarily wanting to know, or being vaguely interested in an answer, but being able to put together past experience and knowledge like the millions of fibers on a network–only to be maddeningly stopped from branching further without understanding or knowing this one bit.

Like stopping an incredible movie right at the climax—that awful, crazy feeling inside would be unfulfilled curiosity—and it’d just kill you not to know. But where does it come from?

And can you consistently cause it in a learner?

If formal learning environments driven by outcomes-based systems have taught us nothing else, it’s that while we often can “cause” something to happen in learner, it is only by considerable effort, resources, and angst.

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But we certainly can create ideal conditions where natural curiosity can begin to grow. What we do when it happens—and disrupts our planned lessons and tidy little units—is another story altogether.

5 Things That Make Students Curious

1. Revisit Old Questions

The simplest curiosities arise from old questions that were never fully answered, or that no attempt to answer was made.

Of course, any question worth its salt is never ‘fully answered’ any more than a good conversation is ever finished, but as we learn and reflect and grow, old answers can look positively awkward, as they are bound by old knowledge.

Strategy to actuate: Revisit old questions—through a journal prompt, Socrative discussion, QFT (Question Formulation Technique), or even a fishbowl discussion. And also revisit the thinking from the first go-round to see what has changed.

2. Model & Promote Ambition

Ambition precedes curiosity. Without wanting to advance in position, thinking, or design, curiosity is simply a biological and neurological reaction to stimulus. But ambition is what makes us human, and its fraternal twin is curiosity.

Strategy to actuate: Well thought-out mentoring, peer-to-peer modeling, Project-Based Learning and a genuine ‘need to know.’

3. Play

A learner at play is a signal that there is a comfortable mind focused on a fully-internalized goal.

It may or may not be the same goal as those given externally, but play is hypnotic and more efficient than the most well-planned instructional sequence. A learner playing and learning through play, nearly by definition, is curious about something, or otherwise they’re simply manipulating bits and pieces mindlessly.

Strategy to actuate: Game-Based Learning and learning games and simulations like Armadillo Run, Civilization VI, Bridge Constructor, and Age of Empires all empower the learner to play. Same with Challenge-Based learning and other forms of learning.

4. The Right Collaboration At The Right Time

Seeing what is possible modeled by peers is powerful stuff for learners. Some may not be initially curious about content, but seeing what peers accomplish can be a powerful actuator for curiosity. How did they do this? How might I do what they did in my own way? Which of these ideas I’m seeing are valuable to me—right here, right now–and which are not?

Strategy to actuate: Grouping is not necessarily collaboration. To actuate collaboration, and thus curiosity, students must have a genuine need for another resource, idea, perspective, or something else otherwise not immediately available to them. Cause them to need something, not simply to finish an assignment, but to achieve the goal they set for themselves.

5. Use Diverse & Unpredictable Content

Diverse content is likely the most accessible pathway to at least a modicum of curiosity from learners. New projects, new games, new novels, new poets, new things to think about.

Strategy to actuate: Invite the learners to understand the need for a resource or bit of content and have them source it. Instant diversity class-wide, and likely divergence from where you were going with it all. At worst you’ve got engaged learners, and a real shot at curiosity.

5 Learning Strategies That Make Students Curious

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