Classroom Practice

Teaching Models Series Part 1: Blended Learning

Written by Natalie Gilbert

There are many different ways of approaching instruction in the classroom. Most teachers choose to deliver their lessons based on classroom resources, teaching styles and levels of comfort with technology, and student preference. Some teachers like to mix up their instructional delivery throughout the year, while others stick to tried-and-true methods. If you are looking for an alternative teaching strategy, or like to be inspired by new ideas, then you will enjoy this series. Ahead of back-to-school season, we are focusing on six teaching models that can be implemented into your schools and classrooms.

Blended learning is the combination of face-to-face instruction and the use of technology to deliver content.

Blended learning is a popular teaching strategy for many reasons.

  • With a large class, it allows teachers to separate students into two or more groups, so they can focus on instructing smaller groups in a face-to-face setting while other students are working independently. This enables teachers to customize content and personalize instruction for their students, as they are working with a smaller student to teacher ratio.
  • It also allows students to learn outside of the classroom because they can access materials online. For students who are often absent, a blended instruction method can help them stay on pace with the rest of the class and easily catch up on missed work.
  • It helps to develop the technological skills of both teachers and students.

There are many ways that blended learning can be implemented in the classroom, depending on available resources, the level of teacher comfort and the set learning outcomes.

Here are some ideas to get you started:.

  • Using a course management system (CMS) like Moodle, teachers can post presentations, assignments and helpful resources for their students to download, view and work from. Teachers can also create discussion forums and post questions for students to answer.
  • Teachers can create playlists on a particular topic using an online tool like Learning Bird. Content items can be found by browsing the curriculum, subject, keyword or textbook. During class time, instruction can be divided into some students watching the online lessons, while others are engaging in a discussion about the topic. Learning Bird also offers an assessment tool so teachers can see if their students understand the assigned topics.
  • With an online presentation tool like Google Slides, Glogster or Prezi, students can research a topic that was introduced in class, and virtually collaborate on a presentation.

The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation partnered with Evergreen Education Group to publish 12 case studies on the effect of blended learning in K12 educational settings. While the rate and measurement of progress varied within each district, blended learning promoted positive change in every case. For example, Spokane Public Schools in Washington has implemented blended learning across their district, which resulted in the increase of the district’s graduation rate from 60% in 2007 to 83% in 2014. Here are the full results of the ‘Blended learning success in school districts’, broken down by the 12 districts.

Further Reading
Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker
Blended Learning in Action: A Practical Guide Toward Sustainable Change by Catlin Tucker, Tiffany Wycoff and Jason Green
Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen

Blended learning is an excellent strategy to employ in your classroom, even if you only have access to limited technology. It provides a way for your students to use technology in a controlled environment, and provides you with the opportunity to work with smaller groups of students, thus providing giving them more personalized attention. Blended learning can be combined with other teaching strategies, such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or 1:1, which will be covered in this series. Stay tuned for Part 2: Learning Stations.

About the author

Natalie Gilbert

Natalie has spent the last five years working in both traditional and experiential education settings in Haiti, India, and South Korea. Her background is in journalism and education, and she is currently pursuing her M.A. in Educational Technology. She enjoys running, exploring new neighborhoods, and cooking.

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