Here are some thoughts about “Blended Learning:”
Blended Learning is a new catch phrase of online learning enthusiasts, a modification of the term “hybrid courses.” Essentially part of a student’s learning is a traditional classroom and the other part is in mediated instruction — computer based learning at the student’s own pace and time.
I must write that I am an online educator and researcher, but this is not as big of a deal as it is being portrayed. The terminology is more hype than anything else, because technology and the Internet have not “enabled” blended learning. See this recent article for a blended learning overview.
Blended learning, without computers, has been part of the education mainstream for decades and I can remember learning in a blended classroom in the 1960s when I was in junior high school in “shop” class. The instructor gave us direct instruction about how to use a particular shop tool and a technique to go along with it. It was our task to then apply the learning to the best of our ability within the project times of the class. The teacher provided individual instruction and feedback. We made a “recipe holder,” a clothes pin nail to the top of a stand, a magazine rack, and a garden trowel. Blended learning.
Project-based learning has fit the blended model long before the term was morphed into what it is today. In our schools, blended learning has been a main stay in art courses, business education courses and vocational education courses. Walk into one of these classrooms and you may see a teacher providing direct instruction or see students working individually on their projects that applies their learning. I have never seen more collaboration and problem solving in a classroom than I have seen in the auto shop with students standing under a car discussing how to diagnose the issue and repair it.
Today’s technologists think it’s recent and there’s an attempt to generate a strong breeze of support. The issue is that blended learning is a methodology not a technology. A teacher can have a blended-learning classroom without the Internet, although the web provides many resources for project-based learning. The Internet and online learning are not the enablers of blended learning. It is a methodology for learning and a motivated teacher who sets the stage for this learning modality.