Thanks to modern blended learning techniques and technologies, education doesn’t have to stop when your child leaves the classroom. Today’s kids can use online and digital tools to engage with material on their own time and at their own pace, in addition to, or even instead of, traditional face-to-face lessons with educators. Whether you send your kids off to school each day or homeschool them yourself, blended learning offers kids enhanced opportunities to succeed.
Blended learning doesn’t just mean using high-tech tools, like a laptop or tablet and Google Docs, in place of old-fashioned ones, like a pencil and paper. Blended learning gives students more control over their educational process, letting them take charge, to some degree, over where, how, and when they work.
It encourages them to see their peers in the classroom as educational resources, rather than relying solely on a teacher for instruction and guidance. It gives them a chance to learn proficiency with research tools, develop critical thinking skills, become skilled navigators of the digital space, and, perhaps most importantly, make the vital shift from consumers of knowledge to producers of knowledge.
Blended Learning Gives Students More Control Over Their Progress
It’s not uncommon these days for students to bring home school-issued laptops and tablets, or to need internet access in order to complete homework assignments. But merely doing lessons or listening to lectures online doesn’t make a blended learning curriculum. A key feature of blended learning is that it harnesses these technological tools to give students a measure of control over how, where, and when they learn the material.
In blended learning curriculums, students have access to lessons, activities, and information whenever and wherever they want it, as long as they have an internet connection. That makes education more accessible to homeschool students and students who can’t attend traditional brick-and-mortar schools for whatever reason. However, it also makes education more efficient — teachers can use blended learning tools to assess how readily students are grasping a concept, so they tailor their lessons accordingly and free up more time for more difficult concepts. With apps, videos, educational games, online discussion boards, backchannel chats, and other resources, students in blended learning curriculums have full access to the material anytime they want it, and more freedom to self-pace their learning.
Students Develop Valuable Tech Skills
Many students don’t have internet access at home, which is a concern for teachers who may want to implement blended learning models in the classroom. Getting those students access can involve pointing them to on-campus computer labs and resources, or resources in the community, like coffee shops and public libraries with free wifi. It’s important for those students to get that internet access, because without experience navigating and using digital tools, those students may grow into further disenfranchised adults.
Even students who do have access to home internet can benefit from the tech skills that blended learning curriculums can teach. Rather than using the internet just for entertainment or catching up with friends, blended learning curriculums teach general computer literacy and the rhetoric of software and user interfaces, so that those students are better prepared to use digital tools in focused and constructive ways as they grow older and progress in their academic careers.
Blended Learning Encourages Students to Turn to Peers for Help
Whether you’re a classroom teacher or a homeschooling parent, you can rest assured that implementing a blended learning model in your classroom won’t leave students running to you for help 24/7. Whenever students are online, engaging with a blended curriculum, they’re also supported by a network of their classroom peers. Students will quickly learn that their peers can offer them real help, support, and guidance, and they’ll begin to develop the socialization and network skills that they’ll need to collaborate successfully in later academic and professional life.
Students Begin Producing, Rather than Just Consuming, Knowledge
Young students are consumers of knowledge, and in the traditional model, they do so mostly passively in an environment in which an instructor controls the information and the speed and manner by which it is dispensed. But as students evolve in their academic and professional careers, they’re going to need to transition from passively consuming and memorizing existing knowledge to creating new knowledge.
Blended learning assists that transition by giving students some control over their educational trajectory and encouraging them to use the tools at their disposal to develop and express new perspectives.
Students can use digital tools at home to prepare work that is discussed or presented in the classroom. With the guidance of instructors, they can learn to think critically about their findings, develop and express meaningful perspectives, and supplement information presented in the materials with the information they discovered on their own thorough research.
Blended learning curriculums do more than just bring high-tech tools into the classroom. They give students a measure of control over their academic progress and the material they’re presented with, to engage them more deeply in their own education. Blended learning can create students who care about learning, and who are deeply invested in their community of peers and their own success.
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