Making Blended Learning Work in Your Classroom

Blended classrooms are increasing. You’ll know you are witnessing an innovative instructional strategy if you see a scenario like this:

When you walk into the classroom, you search around for the educator. She’s not at the front of the room. 

The learners are collaborating in groups at tables and in informal seating areas. They’ve reviewed the material the night before at home, using their own tech. Now they’re using tech to confirm facts and take notes although discussing their projects. Everyone knows what to do, and they’re on task. At home, they viewed a video about today’s topic in preparation for class.

At last, you see the educator huddled with learners in one of the collaborative groups. She’s asking the learners questions and recording responses on her handheld tablet. 

Blended learning scenarios like this one happen in classrooms all over the country. Blended learning combines tech and educator-led instruction. Doing so makes an academic synergy that engages learners and inspires them to dig deeper into the content. 

Three Characteristics of Blended Learning

In many classrooms, three characteristics define blended learning:

  • Educators rely on tech to understand learners’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Learners understand and follow routines seamlessly, allowing little to no interruption to instruction.
  • Every action and task is purposeful: no wasted time or busy work allowed.

Learners review videos or read Internet articles outside the school day, either at home or in the library before school starts. Then their educators become guides in the blended classroom, orchestrating learning experiences. This blended approach offers the best of both worlds, combining self-directed learning with educator support.  

Hybrid Learning in Your Classroom

So how can you deliver blended learning in your classroom?

A part of your lesson can be taught through tech. Digital and online media such as explainer videos can offer insight into most of the concepts you teach.  You can begin by determining which model best suits your learners’ needs and then establish a blended learning community.

  • Rotational – The rotational model should be thought of as a learning center. Learners transition from activity to activity and one of the centers must be tech-based.
  • Flex – Online learning makes up many of the instructional delivery.
  • A la carte – Learners take all their classes online, selecting only the modules they need.
  • Enriched virtual – Educators provide individual instruction, and learners complete some of their coursework online.  

Acclimate learners to your blended learning approach by incorporating tech in phases.

Blended Learning Phases

If you think of blended learning as something to teach your learners in stages, everyone will be able to handle the transition.

In Phase One, the educator talks to the whole class, providing general directions and a to-do list. Learners are responsible for completing the items on the list. Begin with simple tasks, getting learners used to accomplishing everything on their lists, regardless of the selected, blended learning model. 

Phase Two becomes more individualized. Learners have developed competence in getting their tasks done, and now the educator can differentiate the assignments. The customization enables better pacing and more personalized instruction.

Lastly, Phase Three requires that learners take ownership of their learning. Learners set their schedules and develop task lists. The learning experiences become increasingly collaborative and project-based. 

The adaptability of blended learning enables educators to meet the needs of every learner in the classroom. Eventually, learners take responsibility for their learning needs. The result is dynamic instruction built around tech.

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