Blended Learning – What is it?
Blended learning is the continuum of face-to-face learning with synchronous and/or asynchronous digital learning as well. Some examples include classroom aids, flipped, and hybrid learning. Blended learning helps encourage self-directed learning and independence. It is not necessarily a 50/50 split but can be tailored to fit the student and teacher’s needs at that moment in time. As soon as you bring technology into the classroom you are essentially blended teaching and learning.
By going off of my definition above, I have experienced blended learning for a good portion of my schooling. I remember in grade 7 our elementary school received one laptop cart for the senior end of the school to share. This was around 2007 when Desktop Mac computers were just beginning to be replaced with laptops and more access to devices in classrooms. I remember it being extremely exciting however we usually had to share a laptop with a partner, and everyone was saving documents to the desktop and USB sticks. The cloud certainly did not exist at this point. Digital citizenship hardly existed and it seemed as though our teachers were definitely learning with us in the moment. The fact that kids were typing on a white laptop also showed how dirty our hands are because they quickly become grey/brown. Throughout high school, we often used computer labs in various classes as well. My graduation present from high school in 2013 was a Macbook Pro laptop that I am currently still using to type this blog post! Ten years is a pretty good life span for Apple devices nowadays.
The first experience that I can remember of a more traditional “blended learning” class was during my undergraduate courses at the U of R. Kin 180 – Human Development was one of the only classes that I took that was specifically offered as blended learning. We had two classes per week for 50 minutes each instead of 3, and then online tasks and discussion forums to complete asynchronously. This method is comparable to Chapter 4: Methods of teaching with an online focus by Bates where OCL (online collaborative learning) is one of the main focuses utilized within a discussion forum. students, we quite enjoyed this model because it eliminated the third 50-minute class from our weekly schedule. This was huge when taking five classes that had both seminars and labs and I’m sure the professor appreciated it too.
Benefits & Challenges of Blended Learning For Teachers:
|Portfolios & Communication||Technical Difficulties|
|Data Analysis||Digital Citizenship|
During the pandemic, my students were using their devices much more often at home during isolation periods and hybrid learning. However, this school year I find that students want little to nothing to do with digital learning at home as it equates to doing homework for them. Today, my students use devices every day in the classroom. We use devices throughout all subject areas and for a variety of different lessons, assignments, projects and reflections. Even though we have ample access to technology and platforms, my class still struggles with balancing technology enhancing their learning versus it becoming a distraction. Here are a few examples of what we use our devices for on a regular basis. This is not a comprehensive list, but these are a few of the main tools I use and some require paid subscriptions on the school and division levels.
- Seesaw Digital Portfolios (Parents connected to student accounts)
- Sora (Digital Library Website for E-books & audiobooks)
- Mathletics (Supplemental math lessons connected with Saskatchewan Outcomes)
- Canva – Digital design space for creating artwork, posters, slideshow, videos
- Office 365 – Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Teams, OneNote, Outlook
What are your favourite platforms or websites that you enjoy using with your students? Let me know in the comments!