Blended learning has gained a lot of traction in recent years, both in the academic and the corporate world. And not just because the current uncertain times see students and teachers constantly shifting between their classrooms and computers. 70% of students say they learn best in a blended learning environment. Teachers also notice increased engagement and improved academic ability in students learning in the blended approach. Find out everything you need to know about blended learning and how you can make it work for your classes, too.
- What is blended learning?
- How does blended learning work?
- Blended learning models
- Advantages & disadvantages of blended learning
- Blended learning in corporate training
- 3 Real-life examples of blended learning
- Blended learning done well… with Kaltura
What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning or hybrid learning combines physical and online learning experiences in a complementary way that gives students some degree of control over the time, place, path, and pace of instruction.
The consensus seems to be that blended learning should comprise 50% to 70% of in-person instruction, while 30% to 50% should be delivered online. How you fill in the rest of the dots is kind of flexible. That’s why it’s difficult to formulate a clear-cut definition and why so many models exist within blended learning.
Blended learning owes its popularity to its inclusion of all types of learners, from students who fare better in a face-to-face environment with full teacher support to students who thrive in a more independent, computer-based setting.
The debate about the benefits and drawbacks of online learning is ongoing. But blended learning offers the best of both worlds.
How Does Blended Learning Work?
It depends on the type of blended learning you want to apply. We will cover the most popular blended learning models in the next section and discuss their different approaches.
The most basic requirement for blended learning, which all models have in common, is that all students and the teacher must have access to a computer with an internet connection. Most models will also require some form of virtual classroom platform, where students and teacher can see each other, interact, and collaborate on shared documents and course material. A few models will also require the possibility to “break out”, share screens, and work on digital whiteboards (features that are all included in our solution, Kaltura Virtual Classroom).
The way and the amount of blending define the different models of hybrid learning. Teaching physical classes and simply uploading those lectures as on-demand videos does not constitute blended learning. In blended learning, online and in-person instruction should support and reinforce each other and ultimately deliver a richer learning experience.
Blended Learning Models
With technology seeping into all aspects of our lives, chances are you have already practiced some level or some type of blended learning in your classroom. The main differentiator between the models is the degree of blending of the online and in-person segments. But also, the type of course content, technology, tasks, and lesson structure can differ from model to model.
What is common throughout all models is the heavy reliance on video for the online portion of the course. Lectures, YouTube videos, Ted-ed video material, and other video sources constitute the main format to deliver new knowledge and ideas.
The beauty is that you can concoct your own blend that works for you and your students. We will nevertheless list the 8 most popular blended learning models to give you an idea of the possibilities.
In this model, the instruction is teacher-centric. The learning experience is enriched with digital tools that students can access at their preferred time and learning pace.
Online driver blended learning is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Instruction is self-paced and takes place entirely online. This model requires a robust virtual classroom platform like Kaltura Virtual Classroom to support the whole curriculum. Students can connect with the instructor via chat, email, or video conferencing. Face-to-face meetings between students and teachers can be scheduled ad hoc.
Just as the name implies, station rotation sees students cycle through various scheduled learning activities, some instructor-led, some online. To make this work, the class is broken up into groups that rotate between the learning stations. The instructor monitors and guides the whole process. The learning stations can involve face-to-face teaching, practicum, or online tasks.
With lab rotation, the entire curriculum is delivered online, but using the school computer lab. Students work their way through the course material online, at their own pace, in a dedicated computer lab. Lab rotation is usually combined with in-person classroom sessions to consolidate the new knowledge and ask questions.
With self-blend, students have the option to enrich their traditional learning sessions with additional online learning. They can further explore new concepts and knowledge through videos, webinars, articles, or other online publications.
In the flex blended learning model, the instruction mainly takes place online, with the possibility of complementary offline learning activities. Students have more control over the timing, pacing, and learning path in the flex model. The teacher plays a supporting role and is available for in-person consultation ad hoc.
Maybe the most popular type of blended learning, the flipped classroom inverts the traditional approach by having the students learn new concepts and ideas at home and join the physical classroom to practice the new knowledge under teacher supervision.
Commonly called micro-schools, learning pods group up to 15 students of different age levels in a single room. This approach was quite popular during the pandemic’s lockdown and isn’t necessarily a blended learning model, but it can be taught using a blended learning model. Learning pods rely on virtual instruction by the main teacher, assisted by in-person facilitators.
As we said before, there are endless blending possibilities. You might hear of other blended learning models like project-based blended learning, inside-out blended learning, Capstone learning, a la carte model, etc. Sometimes, models have even been ‘re-blended’ into new combined models. But they’re essentially variations on the same theme.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of Blended Learning
Blended learning enjoys many benefits, while the disadvantages should rather be seen as pitfalls, issues that arise from the poor application of key blended learning concepts.
Benefits Of Blended Learning
- Blended learning appeals to all types of learners
Blended learning serves students who prefer a traditional classroom environment, as well as students who learn better in a remote online setting. Self-paced learning at home allows for a more personalized learning trajectory, to the benefit of the student’s progress. But it also frees up valuable time for the instructor to consolidate the students’ knowledge through practicum and offer support where necessary.
- Blended learning is more flexible
At least the online portion allows students to do their learning at a time, place, and pace that is most convenient to them.
- Blended learning delivers a richer learning experience
According to research, students acquire a more thorough understanding of the subject matter in a blended learning environment.
- Blended learning supports social learning
As opposed to fully remote learning, blended learning makes space for social learning through interaction with teachers and peers.
- Blended learning is fun and engaging
Variety is the spice of life. Blended learning introduces a host of new tools and activities to the classroom. Multimedia content, educational technology, and digital collaboration and communication tools all work to increase interactivity and engagement for the students.
- The use of online learning platforms enables data-based assessment of student progress
The better online learning platforms, like Kaltura Virtual Classroom, have an integrated analytics dashboard that help teachers paint a complete picture of their students’ progress with attention indicators and engagement metrics.
- Blended learning is more time and cost-efficient
Blended learning environments may take time and budget to initially set up. But once it is running and teachers and students are accustomed to the new way of teaching and learning, blended learning will save time and costs on travel, infrastructure, utilities, textbooks, etc.
Pitfalls Of Blended Learning
- Blended learning relies on technology
When creating a blended learning environment, it’s important to choose an online learning platform that ticks off all your boxes. Using free video conferencing software combined with social media and file exchange platforms is a makeshift solution that will make your course feel makeshift, too. Choosing a robust all-in-one online learning solution built for teaching will be half the battle won.
Other potential issues of blended learning’s heavy reliance on technology include student access to the required technology, IT illiteracy, and tech failures like crashes or connection issues. Provide solutions for these potential showstoppers in your blended learning program.
- Blended learning relies on students being independent
Doing a considerable part of the learning at home demands discipline on the student’s behalf. Research commissioned by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council found that only 50% of students watched lecture videos regularly, while 40% of students binge-watched several weeks’ worth of videos in one go, which can hardly be deemed conducive to learning.
To avoid this pitfall, it’s important to include monitoring and assessment mechanisms in your blended learning strategy. Monitoring at regular intervals will nip problems in the bud and help students get back on track.
- Courses aren’t always well-adapted to an online environment
Simply putting traditional course content online won’t make for an effective blended learning program. You’ll have to adapt the curriculum to the environment and make sure you leverage the digital tools and technology you have at your disposal to fully benefit from blended learning without suffering its disadvantages.
Adopting a blended learning strategy is a process, in which you’ll have to define new learning goals, integrate technology into your curriculum, and test what works or doesn’t work in the new environment. As we said before, the online and in-person segments of the program must work together to deliver a rich learning experience.
Blended Learning In Corporate Training
It’s been researched and proven time and again, the traditional classroom environment as applied in schools and universities doesn’t translate well to the corporate world. The American Society for Training and Development states it clear, “as soon as they get back to work, employees forget 90% of the knowledge they acquired in their training.
Blended learning is better adapted to the needs and the reality of enterprises. Knowledge can be delivered in bite-sized chunks that are easier for the employees to assimilate. The workers can explore that content online at their preferred time and pace and then consolidate that knowledge during in-person training sessions, allowing for personalized training and upskilling for individual employees.
Scalability and the lower cost also make blended learning an attractive strategy in corporate training. The fact that you can reach more employees globally with the same training content is especially appealing to larger companies with multiple offices. Digital tracking capabilities and the analytics suite that comes with professional-grade online learning platforms also make it easier to track trainee progress.
3 Real-Life Examples of Blended Learning [Case Studies]
INTI International University and Colleges in Malaysia
INTI transitioned its entire course offering to a blended learning experience. One of INTI’s core values is to be student-centered. That’s why they decided to adapt their institution to the needs of digital natives, in 2015. “These individuals spend over eight hours connected to the Internet, going across an average of 2.7 screens each day,” said Dr. Malini Eliatamby, Chief Academic Officer at INTI International University & Colleges. “So, we asked ourselves, how can we create content that will resonate with them? How can we create teaching materials that will engage them?” In 2018, INTI videos have received over 250,000 plays, further consolidating their position as one of the most respected and trusted institutions in Malaysian private higher education, with methods and tools that prepare students to meet the needs of the 21st-century workplace.
Ernst & Young
Multinational professional services network Ernst & Young is not new to blended learning. Since they implemented blended learning in their corporate training program back in 2000, they were able to cut back training expenses by a third, while maintaining the quality of the training. Adopting a blended learning strategy made their Learning & Development strategy far more efficient and scalable, needing only half the training time to keep their 100K global workforce competitive and motivated.
Ticketmaster identified a need for corporate training after probing the quality of their customer service. Ticketmaster’s instructional technology manager Chris Stewart rightfully found that you can’t replicate the workplace in the classroom or virtually. So, he turned to blended learning to deliver knowledge to employees through webinars or self-paced classes, which they can then apply on the job under the supervision of a mentor or by shadowing a more seasoned employee. They effectively combined self-paced eLearning with real-world practice to the direct benefit of their employees and clients.
Blended Learning Done Well… With Kaltura!
Online learning success stories like TedEd and Khan Academy (which you can use in your curriculum, by the way) demonstrate that video is a crucial tool for the online segment of blended learning. 83% of institutions use video as a format for their remote teaching and learning programs and 84% see the positive impact of video on student satisfaction [Kaltura 2020 – The State of Video in Education].
So, part of the teacher’s job in a blended learning environment will be to curate educational videos, but also record video lectures, screen recordings, demonstrations, etc. The teacher may also turn the tables and have students submit video-based homework and other projects.
In searching for the right online education platform for your blended learning program, a rich suite of video capabilities should be at the top of your wish list. And that’s where Kaltura shines.
Kaltura Virtual Classroom is the first-in-class, purpose-built online learning solution for engaging video-based learning experiences.
Kaltura’s feature-rich and easy-to-use platform is the ideal infrastructure around which to build your blended learning program.
Kaltura is engineered for learning and teaching:
- Persistent virtual classrooms
Your Kaltura Virtual Classroom is your personal space. You can prepare your virtual space in advance and brand it, go and come back to find it just the way you left it.
- Collaborative features
Keep your students active and engaged with great collaboration features like digital whiteboards, screen sharing, multimedia playlists, shared notetaking, polls, and quizzes.
- On-demand media management
Have all the tools at your disposal to create and enrich your videos, share them with the right people, and see who’s been watching with viewership and engagement metrics, making Kaltura particularly interesting for the flipped classroom approach and other blended learning models.
- Breakout rooms
Enable small-group collaborations and class rotation models with Kaltura’s easy-to-use breakout functionality with up to 30 rooms per session.
- Moderation features
Stay in control of your class sessions with granular student permission management, a virtual door lock, active speaker focus, moderated Q&A, moderator chat, and attention indicators.
- And much, much more.
We all want the best for our students. And we strive to have each of our students succeed. Knowing that students don’t all learn the same way, it’s a good strategy to diversify our teaching and learning approaches and create a learning space where every type of student can thrive. Blended learning certainly does not pretend to be the be-all-and-end-all solution, but it has proven its worth many times and countless teachers and institutions swear by it.
In the end, the magic lies in the execution. A great blended learning strategy starts from a learner-centric vantage point and is continuously evaluated and tweaked. Like anything else in education, it’s a lot of work, but it is rewarding. If you are ready to roll out your blended learning program, we suggest you start with a bang… with Kaltura Virtual Classroom!