What exactly is blended learning or hybrid learning?
The most common definition can be an amalgamation of traditional and digital learning techniques to create a fully comprehensive program for the learners. You must be thinking why it’s already a buzzword?
- It utilizes both synchronous and asynchronous mode of learning
- Combines face-to-face learning with interactive virtual elements
With the ubiquity of e-learning, blended education is no more a fad and it’s here to stay. However, every coin has two sides and this mode is no exception. With hybrid learning comes certain dimensions which pose challenges to the teachers and students.
Though the benefits of blended learning are endless, the challenges can’t be brushed-off. So, let’s have a look at the main deterrents that halt the teachers to deliver their best.
Tiff with Technology
In the first instance, blended learning may sound like a dream for students and teachers who are not much abreast of the latest technology. This is a common scenario in tier II & tier III cities of India.
It is to be noticed that the technical challenges are at times not about getting technology to work on networks. Rather, they consist of ensuring the success of the program by utilizing and supporting appropriate technologies.
The primary technical challenges include:
a. Ensuring participants can successfully use the technology.
b. Fear and discomfort with technology, and language and comprehension barriers.
Lack of Training
To run a successful blended learning classroom, it is imperative to have an active and participative instructor. Apparently, blended learning may seem far from the comfort zone of the traditional classroom. Hence, redefining the role of the instructor with strategic training is of utmost importance.
However, a lot many teachers and instructors lack the basic understanding to adapt to the process of blended learning. In fact, they fail to involve with the development process. The reasons can be categorized into 2 parts:
a. They have not received any formal training to deliver content in a blended format
b. The facilitators usually don’t get assigned to support the blend
Absence of Instructional Strategy
Sometimes foolproof technology is to no avail when there is no proper execution. Needless to say, it can be only possible with the right strategy.
The instructors don’t get hold of a proper instructional design and strategy to make optimum use of technology for blended learning.
To keep the flow of online learning, the course content should be intuitive and smooth. Blended learning since its beginning has offered opportunities for increased instructional richness and flexibility.
However, owing to lack of effective strategies instructors are left with too little time and lots more struggle to create a successful classroom culture.
It. Gets. Easy
It ought to be.
When humans and technology work in tandem, life becomes easier. The same principle is applicable to educational technology. Considering all the blended learning challenges, it may look like an elephant in the classroom.
But there are surefire way outs.
Let’s discuss the solutions now:
This has to be the obvious solution. But there are different approaches to get a grasp over the nuances. It’s quite alright if instructors get back to the blackboard to understand the nitty-gritty of basic computer. Taking time to get familiar with the initials will help for a quick leap in the learning curve.
Moreover, good social learning management systems are designed with a simple UI to provide maximum ease not only to the instructrors but also to the students.
Proper training for a substantial period ensures all the elements of the blend are coordinated. The facilitator without having hands-on training may get overwhelmed by the number of tasks they need to manage.
Though most of the tasks are automated, there can be potential issues where the teachers may oversight without the right training sessions. This is why, schools, colleges, and universities are curating training modules with a visual course map to help the teachers.
Looking at the How & What
It is exactly where strategy matters.
With all the prerequisites and intersession works, a sturdy strategy should be made before doing the final deed. Once an instructor gets sufficient expertise post-training, s/he needs to invest a good amount of time to prepare the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of hybrid courses.
Much of the success of blended learning is determined in the planning stage. When the plans for technical and instructional challenges are sorted, a well-equipped virtual classroom culture is witnessed.
Given that said, it’s time to focus on the benefits of blended learning.
Blended learning makes classroom training online more efficient by adding maximum personalization. It allows teachers to attend to each student with undivided attention which is rarely possible in a traditional classroom.
With features like LIVE chat with the students both in open and private discussion channels, teachers are able to solve doubts or answer one’s needs within real-time.
Self-pacing, a key principle of many blended learning programs. This is mainly because all the students are not equal. Some are quick learners and some need a little extra time to master a topic.
The self-blend model aids the teacher to manage the pace inadvertently set by the fastest or slowest learner in the group.
Note: Some other models which are prevalent in hybrid learning are face-to-face driver model, flex model and online driver model.
Blended learning is scalable both upward and downward.
With modular courses, there is an increase in agility and thereby it becomes scalable. The efficacy of digital learning as a method for delivering skills to the learners can be leveraged in a scalable way. This, in turn, brings in the best ROI along with a sense of accomplishment for an instructor
An ideal mix of traditional and digital learning techniques, blended learning is gaining popularity at a faster pace than expected. It’s extremely crucial to find one's feet in the world of blended learning sidelining the low-tech possibilities.
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