“Blended Learning – Redefining the Traditional Role of Teachers – 2

Recap:

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.

Blended Learning – Redefining teaching roles:

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.”

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.

 

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Continued:

Through Blended Learning models the role of the teacher has shifted as also the role of the learner. Content can be accessed independently; investigation and depth of understanding can be found divergent of the teacher’s influence.

So, where does that leave the role of the teacher?

The teacher can focus on working with the student to develop the foundational skills to seek, identify and analyse content without the teacher’s help. The teacher has thus provided a lifelong resource to each learner. Learning to access and process information is of vital importance in the age of technology that we live in.

This is what I found out after reading and researching about Blended Learning:

  • Blended learning does not simply mean putting computers, tablets, and new software in front of students.
  • Blended learning is the intentional integration of online and in-person education to expand learning opportunities for students.
  • Teacher education and the way we develop and evaluate teacher educators must reflect the shifts in what teachers are expected to do.
  • In a blended context, teachers need to exhibit many of the same skills we would expect in a traditional school model.
  • Blended learning requires teachers to work in teams for planning and testing new instructional practices and assessing their efficacy.

 

My Findings about Skills required for teaching in a Blended Learning Environment:

  • One of the biggest shifts in a blended-learning environment is that students will be engaged in different activities and working on different concepts and skills.
  • Teachers must learn to be comfortable facilitating learning in this environment and creating a culture that sets high academic expectations and encourages students to take accountability for their learning.
  • A teacher should not be alarmed at seeing students conferring with peers while he/she is working in small groups or one-on-one with other students.
  • If teachers invest in creating a strong culture up front, with clear norms and expectations, blended learning will amplify that culture.
  • Responding to individual student data, in real time or even on a daily basis, is a significant and important shift for teachers to master.
  • Teachers will now need new skills to learn how to support students who are learning different things, at different paces, through different approaches, such as one-on-one tutoring, small-group instruction, project-based learning and lectures.
  • Teachers will have opportunities to specialize. Some may be content experts, others learning coaches or facilitators, and still others might be non-academic teachers.

 

Interpretation of Findings:

The question of whether blended learning is suitable for Indian education and whether it can be incorporated into the Indian educational system can be addressed, if we consider the following facts:

  • Given the large and growing student population in India and the rising cost of delivering education, it makes sense to invest in blended learning methodology.
  • Although the capital investment in technology will be high, it would be cost-effective in the long run.
  • Indian education, especially higher education is already using considerable levels of technology. Blended learning model would essentially give a direction to the spending being done on technology.
  • The new generation of learners in India are digital natives, who use technology effortlessly.
  • Blended learning would keep them actively engaged in the learning process and enable them to fulfil their educational needs in a manner that they are comfortable with.

 

Concluding Remarks

The problems in adopting new technologies range from paucity of funding, fear of new technologies, lack of trained and well-qualified staff, difficulties in imparting proper training to the staff – both teaching and administrative, to general organizational recalcitrance and resistance to change.

The key to a successful blended learning programme does not involve the mere choosing of software, although selecting excellent online content is critical. The bulk of the planning and execution of any lesson still falls on teachers. Any shift to blended learning means that truly effective teachers are now more necessary than ever before, to ensure rigorous content is being taught and that the technology is being used to extend learning opportunities of students.

 

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Bibliography

 

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