ARTICLE FOR THE #BLOGGING PROJECT
We publish the eighth article for the #blogging project written by the student FRANCESCA STELLA
What is "Blended Learning"?
The meaning of "Blended learning" has evolved over time. When it was first introduced, its definition was so broad to basically include any kind of teaching model. Then the concept was further developed, and today a widely accepted definition is that it designates the range of possible combinations of Internet and digital media with established classroom forms that require the physical co-presence of teacher and students. This definition reflects the idea that Blended Learning is the combination of instruction from two historically separate models of teaching and learning: traditional face-to-face learning systems and distributed learning systems. It also emphasizes the central role of computer-based technologies in blended learning. Although blended learning can involve a combination of any number of technologies and techniques, most examples include only two, for example: classroom with online, online with coaching, instructional technology with actual job tasks, etc. One can say that blended learning depends on two sets of forms, which can be summarized as physical co-presence and technical mediation.
It is a widely accepted opinion that there is no replacement for face-to-face contact, regardless of how technology has evolved. In particular, face-to-face allows to transfer tacit knowledge or knowledge that is not written or definable, but gained through experience. In face-to-face communication the speaker can draw on visual cues from the audience to gain quick, immediate feedback and make rapid adjustment if necessary. This allows members to more easily learn about one another's background, skills, experiences, and area of expertise, also building trust within them.
Mediation can involve a wide range of means and technologies, including remote video conferences (separated in space), playback of recorded videos (separated in time), and other more usual forms like asynchronous emails or real-time chat.
Blended Learning models
The possible combinations of the above blended learning forms can be broken down into four discrete combinations or models.
- "The rotation model", in which online engagement is combined, or embedded, within a range of face-to-face forms of instruction in a cyclic manner
- "The flex model", in which multiple students are engaged primarily online, but under the supervision of a teacher who is physically present
- "The self-blending model", in which students choose different courses to take independently, but do so in a setting where a supervising teacher and other students are co-present
- "The enriched-virtual model", in which online, virtual experiences are seen as being enriched only periodically through arrangements of physical co-presence
The main concern of a blended learning construct is the benefit it can bring to students. The importance of face-to-face contact has already been highlighted. However this should be balanced with a second main student concern, which is access and flexibility. Blended learning allows educational providers to properly balance quality and flexibility.
Article written by: FRANCESCA STELLA
With the supervision of the editorial staff of Piazza Copernico