How to Ensure Effective Online or Blended Learning
Blended learning is the term used in describing the way eLearning is being combined with traditional classroom methods as well as independent study. This hybrid teaching methodology brings a better change to the traditional education methodology without an overhaul of computer hardware.
With that said, it is the best methodology for people who are used to the traditional mode of learning to e-Learning. Blended learning has brought about flipped classrooms or training sessions, and it has continued to be a standalone mode of instruction.
In 2000, approximately 45-000 K-12 students were taking online courses. However, today, there are over 3 million students and employees taking online courses with many of the computers or devices in schools or their place of work or seminar.
Components of Blended Learning
Blended learning has three main components, including:
• Online learning materials such as pre-recorded lectures
• In-person classroom activities facilitated by an instructor
• Structured independent study time on the learners guided by materials from online sources and the skills developed via classroom learning experiences
The rise of online and blended learning has forced trainers and instructors to redefine traditional roles, for example, the term “facilitator” is used instead of “teacher”. However, there are challenges to implementing online learning in traditional methods of learning.
Making Online or Blended Learning Effective
While most people are not welcoming towards change in the beginning, over time, they come to appreciate the effectiveness of new technology or any other thing that generally improves their lives. Many instructors have raced several challenges in implementing e-learning and blended learning. Here are ways of ensuring the effectiveness of online and blended learning.
Take it easy
There are many things to consider when introducing online or blended learning; the best way to ensure everyone is on-board is by gradually assimilating learners into the program, or in other words, “taking it easy”. More often than not, learners might not be as prepared for the transition from conventional teaching methods when the instructors expect them to, but they will come round to making the transition successfully.
Moreover, there might be employees that are not technologically savvy, and they will require a strong system of peer support, which might take more time. For online or blended learning, instructors or employers need to use every resource available to ensure the effectiveness of online and blended learning.
Have a Clear Picture
One of the major misconceptions about online and blended learning is that they are all about the learners. Many instructors that we see today find it difficult to allow the learners to do their part when it comes to online learning.
Even with blended and online learning, instructors can still work closely with the learners. The facilitators can lead lively class discussions to supplement the digital interaction with the training materials.
This way, the learners will still be able to see value in the role of an instructor today as part of the teaching approach of blended learning. In addition, instructors too can circulate training materials, collaborate with other instructors, as well as mediate between learners with varying opinions in the same training class, where they get to learn a lot.
Learners as Session and Classroom Leaders
While this might seem like a bold move, it can be beneficial for both the learner and instructor. Letting the learners take charge occasionally is a way to increase engagement and the overall effectiveness of blended and online learning.
With that said, not every learner has the ability to be an instructor, and thus, the instructors ought to pick the learners to head the sessions carefully. For this to be effective, the instructors ought to answer the following questions:
• Which learners are guiding others?
• Which of the learners is most charismatic and agreeable with a majority of other learners?
• Who has the best understanding of the concepts and material?
These can be different learners, but instructors can use them to improve their effectiveness of online and blended courses.
The effectiveness of online and blended learning faces a serious risk of the learners losing interest. To ensure that the objectives of the training session or course are met, then it is necessary that the instructors provide stimulation, entertainment, and variety. This way, instructors can turn their training sessions into digital playgrounds.
This is where gamification can help ensure the effectiveness of online and blended learning. Changing things up occasionally allows the learners to explore different ways of finding solutions to real-world issues in their lives and the workplace.
Create Great Challenges
The key to any learning irrespective of the setting is that the course must have real-life applications, which is especially crucial for working adults. With online and blended learning, learners have become more perceptive and pragmatic and will repeatedly question why they are learning or training in a particular topic.
To ensure that the online and blended learning is effective instructors ought to give projects that inspire the learners to be deep critical thinkers and problem solvers. By creating great challenges, instructors can help the learners create a connection between the theory and the applications of the information learnt in real life.
The effectiveness of online and blended online learning is dependent on how passionate the learners are in the course or training session. The above tips will surely help in increasing knowledge and skill retention as well as improving the completion rates for effective online and blended learning.