August 25, 2018
Blended learning is defined as mixing the best of face-to-face learning with the best of distance/online learning. Face-to-face learning is normally very teacher-intensive, whereas distance learning can be very un-personal. By blending the traditional classroom with online activities, you free the teacher’s time up to do what they are good at and needed for, teaching. This can only be done successfully if you change both your physical classroom and your teaching style. Here are 4 concrete things to start with:

 

Create an online presence for the class

To successfully blend teaching styles, you need an online space where teaching and learning can take place. This online space will serve two purposes, distribute tasks, information and activities to the learners and receive online interaction from learners, either in discussion forums or by submitting activities. According to Tucker, capitalizing the social nature of students is critical to maximizing the effectiveness of a blended learning model.

Change the layout of the classroom

The physical layout of a class has a huge impact on the class-culture and the type of learning. Traditionally classrooms are set up for a sage-on-the-stage type of lesson, with the focus on the front of the classroom and the teacher. If you want to change the type of teaching taking place, you have to change the layout of the class. One of the characteristics of Blended learning the different type of activities that make up a lesson. If you want to successfully blend your teaching, your classroom must reflect this. One option is to have different parts of the class suitable for different types of activities. However, this is very difficult with limit space and resources. A more realistic idea might be to have a flexible layout that you can adapt to different activities.

Limit the amount of time you address the whole class.

Face-to-face learning is characterized by the teacher being the source of all information and therefore talking for most of the lesson, while the learners are more passive. The quickest way to change this is to limit the amount of time you speak to the whole class. This can be done by putting all instructions online, using video clips to explain content, giving personalised feedback online or addressing small groups while rest are busy with other activities.  The station-rotation model is a good example of how this can be done.

Let go of control

Most teachers want to constantly be in control of every learner’s learning, even though it’s neither possible nor educationally sound. Blended learning put the learner in control of their learning. To successfully blend your lessons, you have to be willing to give some of the control away. One way to achieve this is to give the learners more choices, for example, the format they want to use, or the order they want to work in.

Be consistent

All teachers know that consistency is the key to a successful classroom. Blended learning is no different. Choose a few online activities that you feel comfortable with and can use on an ongoing basis. And use them consistently. Do not photocopy the notes today and post them tomorrow. In the end, nobody knows where to find anything.

Changing a teaching style and classroom culture is not something that happens by itself, quickly or easily. But by starting with these 5 relatively simple steps, you will be on your way.

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