As education makes a move toward technological innovation, gone are the once common sights and sounds of the classroom – the heavy textbooks and the rustling of pages being turned have given way to the clicking of keyboards with collaborative analysis of a virtual text.
Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace. While students still attend ‘brick-and-mortar’ schools with a teacher present, face-to-face classroom methods are combined with computer-mediated activities.
This made me ask myself certain questions:
- How far has blended learning redefined the traditional role of teachers?
- Has it reduced the drudgery of teachers and freed them to interact with smaller groups of students effectively?
- Are critics right in scoffing at the effectiveness of blended learning?
- Is blended learning just a way to lay-off teachers and save labour costs in education?
- Can blended learning be widely incorporated into the Indian education system?
- Will it enhance the learning of students and result in improvement in higher education?
To answer these questions, I embarked on a research project. The objectives of the research were:
- “To find out whether blended learning has redefined the traditional role of teachers.”
- “To find out whether blended learning reduces the drudgery of teachers and frees them to interact with smaller groups of students effectively.”
- “To find out whether blended learning enhances the learning of students.”
- “To examine if blended learning should be widely incorporated into the Indian education system.”
I used secondary data like articles from online journals, research papers and books for my research work.
This research work was confined to a study of the role of blended learning in redefining the traditional role of teachers, reducing their drudgery and enhancing the learning of students. This research paper explores whether blended learning could be widely incorporated in the Indian educational system.
Components of Blended Learning
Blended learning combines traditional classroom methods with independent study to create a new, hybrid teaching methodology.
Blended learning has three primary components:
- In-person classroom activities facilitated by a trained educator.
- Online learning materials, including pre-recorded lectures.
- Structured independent study time guided by the material in the lectures and skills developed during the classroom experience.
The move to blended learning represents a fundamental change in the way teachers and students approach the learning experience. The word ‘facilitator’ has emerged as an alternative to “teacher.” The teacher is no longer the ‘sage on the stage’, the wise one pouring knowledge into eager minds.
As facilitators, teachers need to focus on four key areas to guide students toward the most meaningful experience possible:
- Development of online and offline course content.
- Facilitation of communication with and among students, including the pedagogy of communicating content online without the contextual clues students would get in person.
- Guiding the learning experience of individual students and customizing material wherever possible to strengthen the learning experience.
- Assessment and grading.
In the blended learning approach, a student’s day typically includes a combination of online learning and small group instruction time with teachers. This learning model shifts the classroom teacher’s focus away from more traditional curricular and administrative tasks in the direction of working with data and providing more individualized support to students.
Rather than follow the traditional roles of sharing content and grading papers, classroom teachers in the blended learning model must:
- Be willing to learn:
In a blended learning program, the teacher should be prepared to:
- assess, analyse and aggregate data
- use data as an integral part of the planning process for each individual student, groups of students and the whole class
- use benchmark tests and other assessments to direct instruction at different levels (individual, group, class)
- Be open to new teaching strategies:
The blended learning teacher should:
- have a wide breadth of content knowledge
- differentiate instruction based upon student needs
- focus on academic intervention and enrichment
- Be leaders:
To guide students in a blended learning environment, teachers should:
- show students how to findinformation and answers or ask the right questions
- be able to manage project-based learning activities
- have strategies in place to keep students on-task, engaged and motivated
As we transition to technology based learning, the interaction between content knowledge, instructional pedagogy and technology based skills development, becomes paramount to the success of the individual learner within the blended model.
Teachers must understand the content to be taught within the classroom. They must also have deep understanding that allows the content to be morphed into a delivery system allowing the student to take ownership in their learning process. Thus the crucial components for the success of blended learning are content Knowledge, pedagogy and technology.