Blended Learning Overview

Blended learning refers to three methodological concepts. The first is the idea of blending traditional paper materials and curriculum with digital eBooks and information downloaded from internet sources. It is estimated that within five years all U. S. K-12 education will be administer in this format.  Traditional reading and writing in education will never be completely eliminated because of its convenience in conveying information and communicating in a non-electronic format.

The second form of blended learning refers to the Blended-based Learning model which refers to any progressive teaching/learning methodology which combines traditional K-12 teaching methods with innovative programs to encourage the development of the so called “soft skills” of critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, cooperation and curiosity. This form of Blended Learning also includes the integration traditional curriculum to promote authentic learning opportunities. Blended learning is often used as a synonym for hybrid learning, although several authors have distinguished between the two. For our purposes, we are using the term hybrid learning to encompass both perspectives.

Lecturing is without doubt effective for transmitting information but if we wish to develop thinking skills, problem solving abilities and lifelong learning skills a more student-centered approach must be taken (see: How We Learn and Think). This involves a change in the role of the lecturer from presenting information to students in a mostly one-directional teacher-student model to a more collaborative approach where the students themselves feel empowered which facilitates and guides learning.

With the “Flip Teaching” model Flip teaching (or flipped classroom) is a form of “Blended-based Learning” which encompasses any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher-created video lectures that students view outside of class time. It is also known as “the backwards classroom,” reverse instruction,” flipping the classroom,” and “reverse teaching.”

These hybrid models may require students to watch videos at home through platforms such as Khan Academy (p. 48) or engage with other web-based content, while class time is repurposed as an opportunity for teacher-student interaction to mentor individuals and groups, and for students to problem solve and work together in peer-to-peer collaboration while online environments are used for independent learning. The distinction is in the degree to which the Internet components are woven into the curricular design.

The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, which part of the North Carolina State University College of Education, FIZZ project has student video tape their lesson and present them to their peers thus creating the potential of the group to learn from each other. This creates “ownership” in the presenting student which is the highest form of cognitive recognition. This also gives students an opportunity to direct and take responsibility for their own learning (see: Personalized/Blended-based Learning).