Blended learning programs — those that combine online and in-class teaching methods — have grown increasingly popular in recent years. According to the Evergreen Education Group's 2015 annual Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning report, nearly all K-12 school districts around the country now use online learning to some degree.1 By 2019, half of all high school courses will be delivered over the Internet.2 Additionally, nearly one in four college students take at least one online learning course.3
One of the reasons blended learning is growing more popular is because of the many benefits it offers students. These benefits include extra support for struggling students, access to courses not otherwise available, flexible location and scheduling of classes, and personalized learning opportunities. But blended learning also offers distinct advantages for instructors. Here are three ways blended learning can benefit educators at high schools and career colleges:
1. Extends Ability to Reach Students
One way blended learning helps instructors is by extending their ability to reach more students. In a traditional classroom, teachers' visual focus naturally falls on students in the front of the class. In a blended learning environment, since students are doing some of their work online, teachers have more freedom to walk around the classroom and assist individual students. Instructors can also use online video to make eye contact with students in the back of a large lecture room or even at a remote location.
Moreover, by incorporating digitized student data, a blended learning model makes it easier for teachers to personalize educational approaches by taking into account students' individual learning needs and delivering presentations tailored to those needs, which can be especially helpful for reaching struggling students. Blended learning represents one of the most promising tools for developing student-centered learning approaches.4
2. Improves Progress Tracking
Blended learning makes it easier to track student progress on an individual and collective level. With the variety of digital tools available, teachers can automate the process of administering computerized tests, scoring results, and producing electronic reports on individual and group performance. Blended learning software typically uses short quizzes to evaluate students, providing teachers with instant feedback on individual and class comprehension. Some blended learning platforms such as Otus5 also provide information about student behavior and engagement, along with digital tools for producing customized reports on student performance.
3. Empowers Instructor Efficiency
Another advantage of blended learning for teachers is increased efficiency. By leveraging the ability of the Internet to deliver the same presentation to many students at once, blended learning enables teachers to get more done in less time, affording them more time to give students individualized attention or take on other leadership roles in the classroom. North Carolina history teacher Scott Nolt says that he is able to reach twice as many students using a blended learning approach than he was able to reach using traditional learning methods.6 In India, a population of over 227 million students7 faces an anticipated shortage of three million teachers by 2030. To combat this shortage, educators are turning to blended learning as the most efficient way to serve the nation's huge student population.8
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Resources: Photo Credit. (1) Keeping Pace With K–12 Digital Learning (2) Christensen Institute (3) Online Learning Consortium (4) Education Week (5) Otus (6) Real Clear Education (7) India Brand Equity Foundation (8) EdSurge