Blended Learning: The Ultimate Guide

Learn about how blended learning can help you and your students or employees.

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The current global pandemic has school systems and educators across the globe seeking new ways to deliver high-quality learning experiences to their students. One method that is of particular interest, especially given the fluidity of today’s circumstances, is blended learning because it is both flexible and popular with students.

According to a recent survey, 59% of students are more motivated to learn through blended or hybrid learning than in a fully online course or a flipped classroom setting.

What does this say about how the learning experience is changing for students across the globe?

It demonstrates that implementing blended learning techniques can have a positive impact on both you and your students as an educator or employer. 

Blended learning enables instructors and students to use both online and face-to-face instruction to create a flexible model that’s beneficial for both instructors and students

But what exactly is blended learning, and how can you implement it in your class or work environment?

What is blended learning?

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is a way of teaching that utilizes multiple mediums. Parts of the course are strategically chosen to be delivered in an online course setting, and other parts use face-to-face instruction. For example, students may have online lectures that teach the material, and in-class labs to apply what they’ve learned.

A misconception about blended learning is that it is only useful in traditional K-12 and higher education settings. While it’s great for instructors of all grade levels, it’s also a useful model for corporate and organizational training.

It can be used by teachers of all grades, and by employers for employee training.

Easily switch to blended learning

Download a free trial of Knowmia and see just how simple the switch to blended learning can be.

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Online learning can include live or recorded lectures, webinars, videos, and readings. The best practice is usually to implement a few of these in different amounts for maximum effect.

The idea is to offer students and employees a more flexible, yet consistent way to learn. 

What are the benefits of blended learning for students?

What are the benefits of blended learning for students?

There are two main benefits of blended learning for students. They are flexibility and better communication.

Flexibility

One of the best benefits of blended learning, especially for older students, is flexibility.

Aspects of hybrid learning allow students to learn where they want and when they want, also known as asynchronous learning. Web-based lectures and seminars, as long as they’re not live, can be accessed at the student’s convenience. They can learn while at home, at a coffee shop, or even on the bus through their phones.

One of the major benefits here is that if a student misses something, they can simply go back and give it another listen or read. 

Better communication

Hybrid learning makes communication easier for students. They can take can have direct, one-on-one communication opportunities with the professor.

There are plenty of online communication channels for students, from classwide chat rooms to email and Zoom meetings.

There are even asynchronous discussion options, like Knowmia’s Conversations.

What are the benefits of blended learning for teachers/organizations?

What are the benefits of blended learning for faculty and organizations?

One of the biggest benefits of blended learning programs for faculty and organizations is lower costs. Blended learning also allows for more engagement and makes keeping track of your students and employees easy.

Save money

Blended learning saves organizations the money that would normally be spent on printing, travel, and accommodation. Since most of the work takes place online, you can spend less save on facility costs.

What’s more, individuals can save on gas and travel expenses, like public transit costs, that they would normally use to attend class.

Create engagement

Another benefit is a proven increase in student or learner engagement. It means better employees for an organization and more knowledgeable students. This reflects well on the employer or instructor and can give you a boost in confidence knowing you’re helping individuals learn in the best way possible.

Keep students on track

The web aspect of hybrid learning makes keeping track of your students and employees easy. A quality learning management system, or LMS, is key. TechSmith Knowmia offers tools that make it easy for educators and employers to track performance and comprehension.

Results are automatically collected, giving you a concise and accurate way to see who has done the lesson or training and who has not. You can also see areas where specific students/employees may need to improve.

What are the drawbacks of blended learning?

What are the drawbacks of blended learning?

Blended learning does have its flaws. There are three main drawbacks of blended learning. They are unequal technology access, balancing multiple methods of teaching, and plagiarism.

Technology access

Oddly enough, the biggest benefit can also be the biggest drawback — the presence of technology. Not all students have equal access to technology, nor do they have the same skills or experience.

Managing this aspect can be a challenge, but it’s possible to overcome. By creating quick how-to videos and guides for your courses, you can make it clear how students access and consume content. 

The access side can be harder, but one option is to research ways in your community that students can get access to equipment, high speed internet, and other technology resources. Public libraries are often a great option. 

Finding the right method

Hybrid learning also creates a balancing act for instructors and employers. You must determine the best balance between in-class and online methods. It’s hard to find the right balance while also answering all your students’ questions and helping them when needed.

To address this issue, consider using class surveys to see what students like about in-person vs online learning, or try different delivery methods for lessons and assignments. 

Plagiarism

Finally, students need to be educated on plagiarism and source credibility. When everything is accessible online, it leads some students to copy too much from the internet, even if unintentional.

As an instructor, you can instruct your students on how to work best online and what is considered unethical behavior.

The types of blended learning

The types of blended learning

There are four generally accepted models of blended learning used today. The hyflex model, rotational model, enriched virtual model, and the a la carte model. All four have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Hybrid Flexible (HyFlex) model

The hyflex model is a method of teaching that, like all of the blended models, joins online and in-class learning. The unique aspect of the hyflex model is that the learning is done at the student or employee’s discretion.

They’re given all the necessary resources and a due date and allowed to do the courses whenever they choose. They can learn in a classroom, asynchronously online, or synchronously online. Each method gives students the flexibility to complete the course in a way that works best for them.

The instructor is available through email, chat, or another method to help the student when needed.

The hyflex model can utilize a number of online resources, from course videos to infographics to online quizzing and more.

Rotation model

The rotation model takes place in class, with students or employees rotating (often in groups) through different stations of learning. One or more of these stations is technology-based.

For example, one station may be a pen-on-paper multiple choice quiz. Another station might be an online video or interactive learning game. The next station could be a practical approach to the material just learned.

In this case, the instructor is available (usually in person) to help any group or individual when needed.

After everyone gets through all the stations, the instructor may collect the data and review it. From there, they can instruct the class as a whole on what they need improvements on, where they did well, and more. 

The e-learning part of the rotation model can also take place at home. Students attend lectures on the web, then apply their skills to the workshops in the classroom.

Enriched virtual model

With the enriched virtual model, all teaching happens face-to-face and in class.

Homework is done remotely through the web. Students can hand their work in online, or print it and bring it to the next in-class session. While there is some flexibility and an element of student control with this model, class times and homework completion is often scheduled in a more concrete manner.

A la carte model

This method takes place completely online.

Students have access to an online learning portal filled with class material. The students are expected to get this work done on their own time, often by a given due date. All contact with the instructor happens online, often through email or another chat program.

This is a hybrid model because it uses a multitude of online resources. Instructors will often implement videos, quizzes, games, and more. This is the least personal model of blended learning, but also the most flexible.

You can really humanize video learning and make it engaging for students with a product like TechSmith Knowmia

How to implement blended learning

How to implement blended learning

Four keys to implementing blended learning are to create a simple proposal, make videos, consider the needs of your students, and find the right learning management system. Whether you’re an instructor or an employer, you will benefit from implementing blended learning.

Here’s how to implement blended learning in your organization or classroom.

Make the proposal

No matter how much you want to, you can’t just implement hybrid learning immediately.

First, assuming you’re not the highest in the chain, you’ll need to get the higher-ups involved. Although blended learning is often cheaper, it still means moving funds around in the budget. Imagine your boss walks into your classroom only to see no students at all without knowing they’re doing the work online.

Make a case for blended learning to the people in charge. Come up with a list of pros, a lesson plan, and how you want to implement it. Try to get the costs down, and show them why blended learning is the right move.

The more prepared you are, the more likely the proposal will go through.

Make videos

Creating great videos is essential for blended learning and flipped classrooms. If your videos don’t engage students, then they won’t help them learn. Make sure to create a variety of high-quality, engaging course videos that go over the lesson material so that your in-class discussions can focus on diving deeper into the topics you’re focusing on.

If you’re newer to video production, TechSmith Academy has some great tips to help you get started.

Consider the needs of the students

Once approved, it’s time to implement blended learning in a way that works for your students.

Make sure your students have ample access to a computer and the internet. Set them up with resources that will help, such as public spaces with available computers. Make sure they have a reliable way to contact you and assure them that you’ll be there to help.

Make due dates and elements of the hybrid learning structure very clear. Just because the work is flexible doesn’t mean the due dates are. Let your learners know what you expect of them, and reiterate that blended learning is not an excuse to slack off.

Find the right learning management system

Finally, find the right learning management system (LMS). There are lots of web tools that offer hybrid learning environments. Shop around and find one that works best for your students.

If you are creating a lot of videos, you’ll want to make sure your LMS integrates with your video platform.

Looking for a great LMS to make blended learning a breeze?

Download a free trial of Knowmia for amazing features, such as video analytics and in-video quizzing.

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What to look for in blended learning technology

What to look for in blended learning technology

While there are plenty of companies offering blended learning tools, not all of these are equal. There are certain things you should look for before making a definitive choice. Look for adaptability, clear data, and ease of use.

Adaptability

Everyone has a different learning process or learning style that may require a faster or slower pace.

With this in mind, try to find a platform that adapts to each student or employee’s needs. Many blended learning platforms offer additional instruction for students who need it. If a student is found to be struggling with one section, it will offer the student further instruction in that area.

This allows faster learners to go through the lessons quickly without getting bored. Meanwhile, learners that enjoy more time have the extra resources they need to succeed. With easily accessible grades, instructors are able to see who they may need to contact and offer help.

Clear data

A great hybrid learning platform tracks every aspect of a student’s learning.

This goes beyond test scores. Try to find a program that tracks how long each student takes on given tasks in addition to their grades. Having an LMS that shows video engagement can give you great feedback on how well your content holds learners’ attention. The more gradable portions that are visible in a blended learning task, the more data you as the instructors have to work with.

Ease of use

Blended learning can add a lot of pressure to faculty and organizations.

Inevitably, you won’t be a master of all the topics covered. You may feel helpless when a student asks you for help on something you’re not fully versed in. In this way, a good blended learning platform should help you out with these scenarios.

Many programs will give the instructor access to helpful resources tailored to a student’s specific needs. This helps guide both the student and the instructor to success. If your hybrid learning program leaves you in the dark, then it’s not helping you or your students achieve your goals.

TechSmith Knowmia provides users with a world-class support team that’s available to help with any questions. It also offers great tutorials to help you produce the best educational content for your learners. 

Is blended learning right for me and my students?

Is blended learning right for me and my students?

Whether or not blended learning is right for you and your students depends on a number of factors. While blended learning is effective, it’s not ideal for all situations.

If you’re in a smaller school or work environment, for example, it may not be necessary. Blended learning platforms are only cheaper if there’s a considerable amount of people to teach.

Additionally, small class sizes means easier one-on-one time with the instructor and a more communal environment. This makes online components less worthwhile.

In rural areas where technology and internet access isn’t as reliable, blended learning is more of a burden than a saving grace. This also goes for work environments or classrooms with older students or workers. They may need more time to learn how to use the platform, creating more work for the instructor and frustrating students.

If you’re dealing with a large number of students, young students, and/or responsible students, blended learning is a great idea. It also helps if you have a busy teaching or work schedule. Thanks to reduced in-class work, you have more time to relax, focus on individual work, and field questions in a stress-free environment.

Blended learning: the present and future of education

Blended learning: the present and future of education

Now that you know the ins and outs of blended learning, it’s time to make the change. As you’ve learned here, blended learning can be a great way to add flexibility to both school and workplace learning. It also can help save on costs. 

When we consider the current circumstances, now might be the perfect time for you to try blended learning. Your students will be engaged and look forward to the flexibility that blended learning offers. Not only that, you’ll make your job a lot easier and more practical.

Blended learning is the present and future of learning. It’s time to step into it.

If you’re searching for a reliable blended learning solution, TechSmith can help. We provide the tools you need to thrive in the era of online and blended learning.

Frequently asked questions

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is a way of teaching that utilizes multiple mediums. Parts of the course are strategically chosen to be delivered in an online course setting, and other parts use face-to-face instruction. For example, students may have online lectures that teach the material, and in-class labs to apply what they’ve learned.

What are the benefits of blended learning for students?

There are two main benefits of blended learning for students. They are flexibility and better communication.

What are the benefits of blended learning for faculty and organizations?

One of the biggest benefits of blended learning programs for faculty and organizations is lower costs. Blended learning also allows for more engagement and makes keeping track of your students and employees easy.

What are the drawbacks of blended learning?

Blended learning does have its flaws. There are three main drawbacks of blended learning. They are unequal technology access, balancing multiple methods of teaching, and plagiarism.

How to implement blended learning

Four keys to implementing blended learning are to create a simple proposal, make videos, consider the needs of your students, and find the right learning management system. Whether you’re an instructor or an employer, you will benefit from implementing blended learning.

What are the types of blended learning?

There are four generally accepted models of blended learning used today. The flex model, rotational model, enriched virtual model, and the a la carte model. All four have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

What to look for in blended learning technology

While there are plenty of companies offering blended learning tools, not all of these are equal. There are certain things you should look for before making a definitive choice. Look for adaptability, clear data, and ease of use.

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