Learning as we all know is constantly evolving. From the traditional school system of daily schedule in a confined space to the current trend of digitized learning which
Learning as we all know is constantly evolving. From the traditional school system of daily schedule in a confined space to the current trend of digitized learning which is not restricted to time and space. The complexities of learning and teaching pedagogy has over the centuries become broader and more synthesized. It is quite mundane to streamline career paths into strict categories more than ever and more contemporary jobs, inventions and industries are emerging at a fast pace. In summary, this is the jet age of information and invention with globalization and technology at its highest peak in history.
Teachers face the huge task of meeting the needs of the 21s century learner born into this age of accelerated level of human activity that keeping up becomes quite herculean.The traditional classroom is gradually phasing out with the advent of online teaching and learning, remote work and democratized education. There is a lot of emphasis on infusing technology in the classroom and totally scrubbing off traditional classrooms.
This may seem progressive in its actual intent, but recent studies have shown that the learner is a social being who is influenced by his environment and develops his world view from interactions around him. Hence, traditions, norms, values, and systems are important elements of the learner. Increasingly, the educational world is dominated by information and our economies rest primarily on that asset. So our world is also blended, and it is blended so much that we hardly see the individual components of the blend any longer. (Graham et.al 2018). Floridi(2014) cited by Graham et.al, argues that the world has become an “infosphere”(like biosphere) where we live as “inforgs.” What is real for us is shifting from the physical and unchangeable to those things with which we can interact.
In recent years , studies have started shifting from purely digitized education to blended learning taking cognizance of learner’s needs and learning styles. How does the teacher amalgamate traditional mode of instruction with technology and still achieve maximum academic performance of the students?
Floridi’s study tries to explain the next blend in education, involving ICTs, or specialized artificial intelligence (Floridi 2014, 25; Norberg 2017, 65). Learning analytics, adaptive learning, calibrated peer review, and automated essay scoring (Balfour 2013) as advanced processes that, provided they are good interfaces, can work well with the teacher— allowing him or her to concentrate on human attributes such as being caring, creative, and engaging in problem-solving. This can, of course,as with all technical advancements, be used to save resources and augment the role of the teacher. This is the positive reality of blended education as the teacher becomes more of a learning facilitator by instigating research and critical thinking through digitized activity while creating an avenue for discussion forums, assessment and report taking as seen in traditional classrooms.
Mrs. Lotanna is a grade 4teacher in a school in Lagos, Nigeria. She wants to teach the concept of rainforest to her students. In creating her lesson plan, she decided to infuse blended learning. See below a sample of her lesson plan:
The lesson plan above shows a blend of technology in its simplest form and social interactions to teach the concept of rainforests. This is what proponents of blended learning are interested in. The teacher’s role is to facilitate learning and collect data from assessment given to ascertain the level of engagement of the given materials. Most technical processes involved in teaching is automated. For instance, online games and tests which will be graded automatically and the result digitally analysed.
Blended learning is not a one size fits all template. There are various approaches to blended learning.
· The Flipped classroom: Flipped classrooms give teachers the opportunity to facilitate the completion of educational projects and to support students as they practice using concepts learned independently. In a blended learning environment, teacher-led exercises can take place in person while individual study occurs at home using online modules or video lectures. The flipped classroom reverses the original instruction for learning process as opposed to the traditional method. A typical example is when students are given an audio or visual material to study at home before the teacher teaches the concept in class.
· The Individual Rotation Model: The individual rotation model can be employed in a variety of different educational settings, including in blended learning models. Students are sorted by their teacher or by a specialized software in to unique educational pathways based on their needs. Learning opportunities include independent study, small groups, collaboration, lessons conducted by the teacher for the whole group, and individualized interventions. Fixed schedules may be used in place of customized learning journeys if needed, and various stations can be completed online or in person. For a fully in-person experience, students can participate in independent learning on a lab rotation schedule. Libraries and computer labs connect students directly to learning materials.
· The Flex Model: This is a self-paced, student-driven model. While educators construct learning opportunities for their students and support their progress as needed, individual learners proceed through modules on their own. This level of independence may be better suited to older students. In-person components of the model can be used for intervention opportunities, breakout rooms, lab exercises, and collaboration.
· The A la Carte Model: The A La Carte model is a blended learning approach that lets learners take an online course in addition to the core curriculum, providing them with more flexibility over their schedules. (Spiro, 2022). A research summary from the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium noted that a la carte models can expand educational offerings beyond what the school is capable of providing for students by itself.
The blended learning approach to pedagogy is a trend that is beneficial to all educators and students because it accommodates all forms of learning- traditional or digitized, institutional schooling or home schooling, Campus based or distant learning. It engages students and is quite fun. It develops the skill of independent study and promotes collaboration at the same time in the classroom.
The blended learning model has also helped to bridge the educational gap in disadvantaged learning communities who face a curriculum slag due to crisis, unavailability of structured school buildings and unskilled teachers. Registering such children in learning communities online makes it easier for them to get learning materials.
Although technology is still a mirage to some communities in the world, blended learning has proven to be the solution in bridging the gap between traditional and digitized classrooms.It is a major tool that can help democratize education and make it more accessible to every child in the world.
o Dziuban, C., Graham, C.R., Moskal, P.D. etal. Blended learning: the new normal and emerging technologies. IntJ Educ Technol High Educ 15, 3 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-017-0087-5
o Floridi, L. (2014). The 4threvolution: How the infosphere is reshaping human reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
o Balfour, S. P. (2013). Assessing writing in MOOCs: Automated essay scoring and calibrated peer review. Research and Practice in Assessment, 2013(8), 40–48.
o Norberg, A. (2017). From blended learning to learning onlife: ICTs, time and access in higher education(Doctoral dissertation, Umeå University)
o Spiro, K (2022) https://www.easygenerator.com/en/blog/blended-learning/a-la-carte-model/
o Osguthorpe,R.T. & Graham, C.R. (2003). Blended Learning Environments: Definitions and Directions. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 4(3), 227. Retrieved April 5, 2022 from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/97576/.