In our technology-rich era, every classroom teacher already has at their disposal the key components to ensure effective blended learning.
As a term, however, it is one which often eludes a precise or agreed definition.
Indeed, I find that the attempts at definition range from the incredibly broad to the far too specific.
The explanation which I find most helpful is quoted in a 2012 study released by the Victorian DECD.
“In general terms, blended learning combines online delivery of educational content with the best features of classroom interaction and live instruction to personalise learning, allow thoughtful reflection, and differentiate instruction…” (edhq.co/2gFbM2p).
Any approach to blended learning is not about the use of technology; rather, it needs to focus upon the learning. And, most importantly, it is essentially about personalisation and differentiation.
I will not profess to be an expert on blended learning.
Mine is not a ‘factory model’ classroom and nor is it subject to the full ‘flip’.
For me, the other key aspect of the definition given above is that a classroom should combine the best (features) of both worlds; both the real and the digital.
One educator who I do regard as an expert on this pedagogical approach and numerous other topics is Vicki Davis, who is perhaps best known as ‘The Cool Cat Teacher’ (@coolcatteacher on Twitter).
‘Bricks and clicks’ is Davis’ clever and undoubtedly appropriate label for the blended approach; bricks for the classroom, clicks for the Internet.
It is the teacher’s role to connect and combine the “bricks and clicks” to create a powerful student learning experience.
As soon as you’ve finished reading here you should head over to the Cool Cat site and read a full account of the Five Essential Effective Blended Learning Best Practices (edhq.co/2gFc3Ct).
If, like me, you’re always short on time, then this excellent infographic can act as either a Quick Start Guide or an auditing tool for your current practice.
As for my ‘supplementary’ advice, I believe there are two non-negotiables for successful blended learning.
The blended method will only succeed if you work hard to build strong collaborative skills in your students.
We all know that students enjoy working physically alongside one another but they should also be collaborating outside the “bricks” by utilising “clicks.”
There are many online discussion tools but my favourite for classroom use is Today’s Meet.
The second requirement is perhaps a little more problematic for some; you’ll need to cede control to the students.
Give them a focus, collaborative tools, easy access to appropriate resources and then just step back and watch the learning.