The evolving real-world setting and global market have influenced pedagogical shift to blended learning methods. Blended learning is a contemporary method of teaching that is integrative of technological equipment and traditional instructor-led classroom activities. The different student needs are adopted in blended learning and develops capacity for self-learning. Unlike blended learning that is broader, traditional teaching methods are rigid and utilizes collective approach to impart skills in students. Blended learning focus on skills with lifelong impacts through teaching pivoted on exploration and experimentation. Reformers recommend shift from traditional, teacher-centered, and direct instruction (didactic) where students were passive actors in learning to constructivist hybrid training where students are more involved. In blended learning, learners can pursue their courses online with minimal commuting to the classroom. Blended learning is a contemporary teaching approach that integrates traditional and digital methods to customize education according to the students’ needs to improve performance.
The diverse method of teaching in blended learning is more effective compared to traditional learning methods. Since people learn different things in different ways, the different learning styles in blended education improves inclusivity in learning. Digital learning incorporates VARK: visual, aural, reading, and kinesthetic learning styles (Daoruang et al., 2019). VARK modalities trigger logic and reasoning to understand concepts. Blended learning is also more modular and scalable than traditional learning. Training content backed by virtual interaction with the instructor and applied projects enables learners to up skill more quickly. Unlike traditional teaching conducted through explicit teaching, direct instruction, spaced and purposeful practice, and blended learning have more diversified models. Learning in integrated education can be conducted through face to face, rotational, flex, guided lab time, self-blend, and enriched virtual model of learning.
Models of Blended Learning
Face to Face Driver Model
The face-to-face driver model is close to typical classroom structure although it can be conducted online in blended methods. Students interact directly with the tutors crucial for monitoring their behaviors and characters. Technological supplementation in face-to-face driver model allows underperforming and excelling students to learn in accordance to their pace. Online instructions differ in varying cases to support students with various levels of ability and mastery. According to Saragih et al. (2020) learners with poor mastery are provisioned with skill remediation to accelerate their learning. Fast learning and refined students are challenged by face-to-face driver model to prevent boredom and improve their skills. In-person learning ensures all learners are comfortable and learn easily in a familiar, traditional classroom setting. The face-to-face model is a conventional method of learning since learners work from schooling environment. There is greater understanding in face-to-face model since there are less distractions, and real-life demonstrations can be implemented.
Station Rotation Model
Students move between different stations on a fixed schedule in rotation method of learning. The rotation model is more effective in elementary education to differentiate students with varying skills. Lab rotation, station rotation, flipped classroom and individual rotation are the types of blended learning. Tutors have to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their learners for improved performance. For instance, students performing well in mathematics but not in grammar have access to their teachers and online learning materials to improve grammar. Technological devices group students according to their strengths and deficits to support individual learners. The rotational model is suitable when implemented in K-12 educational programs for elementary learners (Dakhi et al., 2020). Educators can identify the gaps in student’s comprehension in rotational model and tailor the learning information to pivot on the areas that students have limited understanding. Horn and Staker identified station rotation, flipped classroom, individual rotation, and lab rotation as the types of rotation (Ayob et al., 2020). Rotation method of blended learning enables students to set the pace of their own learning with guided instructions from the classroom teacher.
Students relocate between stations within a classroom or group of classrooms in station rotation model. Different teachers apply different learning techniques to achieve multiple learning objectives and subjects. Dissimilar from station rotation, students in lab rotation navigate diverse various environment in the learning institution rather than staying in one setting. Brick-and-mortar campuses with different location and fixed schedule are use in lab rotation. Therefore, the resource ability of the learning organization is key in lab rotation. The flipped classroom approach is focused on creating a dynamic learning environment by heightening the levels of student’s engagement (Tupas & Linas-Laguda, 2020). Students participate in active problem-solving activities during class time and complete their readings at home. In individual rotation model, students follow timing set by the teacher for rotation among different classes. Unlike other rotation models, students do not rotate to all stations but rather the ones scheduled by the tutors.
The Flex Model
The flex model of learning is delivered online with teachers support. Students can learn and practice new concepts in a digital environment backed by their tutors. Blended learning offers flexibility with a combination of online and offline modes while enjoying the benefits of educators’ support (Anthony, 2019). Therefore, learning is free from the limitation of pace, time, and space of study. The key themes influencing the flex model are aspects and purpose of the course, evaluation and assessment, and challenges and progress. The tutors predetermine the course materials that students work on at their own pace. The flex model is popular in alternative school setting in work-study programs or where they have attendance problems. Traditional timetabling is therefore unnecessary in schools that utilize the flex model of blended learning. Leaners with flexible schedules and preference for non-traditional school setting are favored by the flex model since they direct their own learning in a digital environment. However, the flex model require establishment of modern computer labs that every student can have access to their computer terminal and professional tutors, hence may be limited by the high initial implementation expenditure.
The Online Lab Model
Online lab model is a more resource-efficient method of learning. Academic institutions with complete online curriculum for entire courses utilize the online lab school model. The model does not utilize certified teachers but rather paraprofessionals trained to supervise. Online lab school model is more efficient on secondary students with budget constraints and need flexibility to progress with learning. Students complete most of their learning in computer labs housed in traditional schools. However, most of the teaching is completed remotely utilizing the computerized distance learning. Therefore, little physical presence in the classroom is required since the whole curriculum is completed using digital platforms. The online lab model has an advantage of education differentiation where students can be learning different subjects at distinct levels. Furthermore, students have unlimited options in education and are not restricted to the supervisors of the facility. Online Lab teaching is essential to aid schools in rural areas with limited resources plug in for a bigger opportunity for learning online with the aid of supervisors.
Self-Blend Learning model
The self-blend model allows learners to extend knowledge gained in the school setting. Online courses offered remotely supplement the learning in the school environment. Tupas & Linas-Laguda (2020) highlight that the self-blend method is favorable to students eager for additional learning in a specific content field. It also educates courses not offered at school and helps students who need advanced placement through early college credit. However, the supplementary curriculum relies almost exclusively on online learning. Pre-recorded educational content is mostly used in self-blend model with minimal supervision. The self-blend learning model is more applicable in tertiary levels of education. Students who are slow learners or have fallen behind in their modules can utilize the self-blend model to catch up with the rest (Dakhi et al., 2020). Moreover, it is cheap and suitable for learners who seek further specialization in their respective courses. Self-blend learning includes classroom learning, integrated with part-time learning to enable the students control the pace of their learning and extend knowledge beyond their course module.
Enriched Virtual Model of Learning
Students divide their time between the traditional classroom methods of education and content creation in the remote online learning. Students in virtual model of learning seldom meet their teachers during school days and it only happens when needed. All materials are delivered via online platforms in enriched virtual model since face-to-face check-ins are optional, students’ message their teachers online for questions (Ayob et al., 2020). The enriched virtual model is trending due to its increased preference by working students, and handicapped. Highly motivated students willing to progress faster than the traditional method also utilize the enriched virtual model of learning.
Advantages of Blended Learning Method over Traditional Approach to Learning
Unlike traditional learning, integrated education creates customized learning experience and evaluation. Teachers can get to know the virtues and faults of their students by evaluation of performance at individual level in blended education. This allows the tutors to set the learning pace and apply customized education for different students. Moreover, students have access to internet spaces to interact openly with their tutors in integrated learning. Traditional learning is generalized since the tutors follow a defined curriculum hence making it challenging for slow paced learners to cope up with the rest of the class. In case of large audience, tutors have limited knowledge and understanding of individual students. There is cultural personalization of learning in hybrid learning to observe cultural differences between learners (Ab Ghani et al., 2022). Additionally, educators can utilize the various online assessment resources to collect and evaluate feedback for each student. Assessment information gathered in blended learning can be used by tutors for diagnostic purposes to identify weak links in the course.
Blended learning unlike traditional education provides broader knowledge from the global perspective. Students can access classes and academic materials wherever and whenever they want hence making blended education flexible. Students access to global resources provides them a variety of learning materials from which they can chose from to meet their interests and level of knowledge. Contrastingly, conventional learning is standardized with more value on the curriculum and tests performance rather than student-focused learning. Traditional schooling is based on repetition and memorization of facts creating the risk of information overload. Information is random, disorganized, and disconnected in traditional methods making it hard for students to cope with learning. The stiffness in traditional education schedule restricting education of personal or work life skills.
There is better content creation in blended learning than traditional learning. Classroom education is reliant of only books that are rarely changed or updated due to strict curriculum, lack of access, and high cost. Information is therefore restricted to the curriculum specific books and tutor’s knowledge. Whereas in blended learning, the digital options provide updated content with support from the internet. Educators can also collaborate efforts via the Learning Management System (LMS) to provide better and well-rounded lessons. Learners have access of information from multiple resources in the internet to help them become open minded and gain a broader perspective.
The plethora of digital communication and collaboration allows the development of critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is promoted through group collaboration, reflective learning, inquiry-based learning, and presentations. Online learning has an advantage of advanced features of digging information such as Google that develop strong research skills. Features such as YouTube videos, and online classes promotes more hands-on learning in a more elaborative manner. This allows slow learners to practice, reread, and master what is taught in class. Additionally, students can test themselves in blended learning prior the classroom test to measure their progress and grasp in particular field. Therefore, students have more control of their learning path therefore making them more self-disciplined (Ab Ghani et al., 2022). Lively demos and visual imaging make practical training more effective with flexibility and self-paced learning features. The contemporary work setting demands critical thinking, practical skills, and computer knowledge present in blended learning.
Blended learning enhances students’ engagements through digital engagement tools. Class dojo, flip grid, augmented reality apps, and Google forms are some technologies used improve students’ engagement. Integrated learning utilizes the flipped classroom approach where direct instruction flows from the group learning space to personalized learning (Hrastinski, 2019). For instance, students can engage in a debate and highlight main points to research at individual capacity. The flipping classroom approach in blended learning encourage active engagement between students and instructors.
Traditional classroom training doesn’t encourage practical skills and critical thinking. Teachers in traditional training focus much on theoretical knowledge due to cost of practicality in various disciplines. Therefore, the learners are not able to apply the information gained through experience and reasoning. Lifelong learning and work practice that involve complex concepts require deeper levels of understanding, critical thinking and exposure limited in traditional learning. The hybrid model of education presents a cheap platform where students can gain practical skills. For instance, YouTube videos can be used to elaborate theoretical knowledge or describe costly projects. Critical learning is essential in education since it aids students reflect and understand their points of views to enable them to not only solve problems but also invent new and creative ideas to do so.
Traditional educational demands substantial time and money investment. Commuting and equipment demand for conventional learning is expensive. The high need for learning materials such as books and intensive investment on lecture halls in classroom education making it cost effective (Saragih et al., 2020). Blended learning is more time and effective since they are not required to take every lesson from the classroom. E-textbooks, e-workbooks, educational videos, and e-tests are some studying materials available in large volumes at low cost in the internet. Therefore, less commuting and classroom resources are required compared to traditional education.
Traditional classroom setting is constrained on the number of students that can be taught at the same time. However, blended learning through online classes and seminars has no limit on the number of students who can enroll. Hybrid learning does not require the trainer to be available all the time like in traditional learning (Ab Ghani et al., 2022). Active learning in traditional method is based on constructivist theory of the idea that learning is constrained by resources accessible that determine interaction with the environment (Ayob et al., 2020). Space and availability of resources limit the number of students who can participate in traditional learning. The different methods of blended learning offer flexibility in education system where the academic stakeholders can choose from the most effective method.
Modern methodology of learning present students with an opportunity to learn multiple languages. The concept of ‘guided discovery’ applied in computer education have indicated positive results in introducing new language to learners. Digital technology and computers have improved the efficacy of guided discovery. For instance, a teacher can introduce a situation, a context through structured questions or newsletters to elicit the language from the students. Vocabulary is also a critical part of learning that is better taught using blended learning (Sari et al., 2018). Technology equipment have more advanced methodology of training vocabulary to improve meaning(s), pronunciation, spelling, collocations, connotations, and the uses of vocabulary in sentences. The modern ways of teaching lexis include matching words with pictures, matching words with definitions, completing gapped phrases, and topic discussions in online forums. Learners confront with different languages and vocabulary in blended learning.
Advantages of Blended Learning Over E-learning Approach
E-learning is the process of sharing knowledge through various digital channels such as e-books, webinars, Google classroom and online videos. The e-learning model is auto-assimilated, and students are needed to assimilate the knowledge from the computer assisted tools. The two primary types of e-learning are computer-based e-learning and internet-based e-learning (Dakhi et al., 2020). Computer assisted e-learning is limited to materials provided by the supervisor whereas internet-assisted e-learning utilize web-based technologies to access a variety of learning materials. E-learning approach provides more extensive knowledge, however, it may be compromised by lack of motivation, self-discipline, technicality, poor-communication skills, cost and distraction among other factors hence making it ineffective to some extent (Munro et al., 2018). Technology advancements of e-learning cannot replace human interactions since learning demand some sense of guidance, context, and direction to interpret the online lessons which only a human tutor can provide. Moreover, team learning is essential to ensure optimal results and to collate different skillsets.
Due to changing academic landscape, blended learning is becoming more preferred teaching strategy for both learners and educators. Blended learning integrates the virtues of traditional learning and concepts of online learning for better learning experience, and outcomes. The combination of both methodologies provides diverse teaching styles, enhance human interaction, contextual and relevant learning resources. The use of blended learning has indicated improve performance in learning especially in higher education (Fisher et al., 2021). Additionally, blended learning improves non-academic outcomes such as communication, public relations, and critical thinking.
Blended learning is compatible with all students unlike e-learning that affects performance of students with poor time management, low motivation and self-discipline. Exclusive utilization of e-learning lacks predetermined structure and schedule necessary to monitor students’ activities and progress. In-person communication, peer-to-peer socialization, and strict schedules in blended learning guarantee the students’ activeness, engagement, and time management (Munro et al., 2018). Students have the responsibility to fend themselves in online learning without anyone following them through their learning goals. The students are normalized to home setting, unpressurized model of learning hence making it difficult for them to regularly keep up with deadlines in online studies (Dhakhi et al., 2020). Moreover, parents are concerned about much screen time imposed on children in online learning due to its effects on health and behaviors. The substitution of face to face and online learning activities enables teachers to monitor students’ disciplinary skills.
There is better student feedback in blended learning compared to e-learning. Blended learning includes learning in classroom setting where students can give teachers or vice versa immediate feedback. Feedback is critical for students to express challenges and questions in learning. According to Kouti et al. (2018) feedback allows the educators to highlight what is accurate and what needs improvement about their work. Therefore, personalized feedback make the learning process easier, effective, and more significant whilst boosting learners’ motivation. There is limited personalized feedback in e-learning environment since there is no in-person relations. Some learners cannot express themselves effectively using the alternative methods in online setting, hence affecting feedback.
Education in e-learning environment cause social isolation. Since the students study online, they experience remoteness, contemplation, and a lack of interaction. The students and tutors in e-learning models start to experience social isolation due to restricted human interaction in their lives. In classroom learning of the blended model allows the students and teachers to inevitably communicate and interact. Social isolation is associated with heath complications such as elevated stress, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, different from blended learning, online learning does not monitor the students for signs of social isolation. Blended learning essentially promotes deeper understanding since it allows students to share their ideas, and knowledge on various subjects with each other (Kouti et al., 2018). E-learning have the risk of un-comprehensive development of learner’s therefore unfair access to education.
Blended learning develops communication skill absent in online learning. Besides theoretical knowledge, communication skills enable the learners to understand people and situations. Moreover, successful communication enables the students overcome diversities, create relations for sharing ideas, build trust, and solve problems. Interactive online lectures and peer to peer group activities in blended learning enhances communication. Blended learning enhances both interpersonal and digital methods of communication (Nasution et al., 2021). Students who graduate without generic skills such as communication and teamwork find it difficult coping with social and work life. Students enhance their verbal and written communication prompts in classroom group assignments. Furthermore, they can learn using synchronous and asynchronous web communication tools such as chat, email, and discussion board. Integrated learning equips the students with diverse communication skills essential for contemporary social context and labor market.
Online education is theory-oriented hence restricted practice. Due to the nature of e-learning environment, practical education is impossible. Blended learning allows tutors to organize lessons for practical projects that can either collaborative or individual activities. Multiple disciplines can be taught using blended learning due to the combination of face-to-face lectures and technology. Academics disciplines differ in the scale of practical experience needed hence some cannot be used in e-learning. Due to lack of practical education in e-learning, it is limited to social sciences and humanities, excluding scientific fields such as engineering, and medicine that demand hands-on practical skills (Venkatesh et al., 2020). No amounts of theoretical education in online learning can equal industrial training for engineering students or practical surgical training for medicine students. Blended learning provides excellent alternative to supplement the theoretical knowledge from e-learning with practical skills using the traditional course format.
Technicality in e-learning limit it to computer literate learners. Blended education orients the students on how to navigate the online academic materials, and equipment. Notwithstanding the development in technological advancements, computer literacy rates are far from perfect. Therefore, many students are challenged by accessing e-learning as an educational model. Kouti et al. (2018) imply that traditional methods of education such as face to face in blended learning bridge the computer literacy gaps for effective integration of online learning. Teachers also need the necessary resources and tools which are costly to conduct online training (Nasution et al., 2021). Moreover, online learning, unlike blended learning is easily interrupted by technology issues such as power and internet outage. Therefore, it is important that e-learning to be perceived as an addition rather than an absolute replacement of traditional education.
There is more accreditation and quality assurance in blended learning compared to online education. Accreditation and e-learning focus on efficiency, productivity, and fair evaluation to enhance the quality of education. Some online academic platforms are unaccredited hence the authenticity of learning in such institutions is unguaranteed. Furthermore, cheating prevention is challenging during online assessment since students take the tests in their own environment. In blended education, learners take in-house tests with supervision backed by digital surveillance and cheat detection technologies. Additionally, students taking online courses may bring in third-party individuals to take the tests on their behalf leading to fraudulent test results.
Advancement in technology have influenced a significant turnaround the education sector. With increasing innovation and application of digital devices, and concepts in education the e-learning method have developed in the contemporary society. The online learning model confront the challenges of schedule stiffness, high cost, poor individualization, and limited learning resources associated with traditional methods. The online methods however, when applied exclusively is affected by low motivation, poor self-discipline, time management, technicalities of the digital equipment, distractions, diminished social and communication skills.
A blended method of learning was developed to incorporate the features of traditional and e-learning methods. The hybrid method is broad to cover most aspects of learning to improve efficiency and performance in education applied in rotational, flex, face to face, self-blend, enriched virtual, and online lab models. The blended learning methods helps teachers to become more effective and make students more engaged, stimulated, and motivated. Teacher-led instructions is minimized since educators only provide guidance to a set of online learning activities. Basic technology knowledge, communication, and interaction skills are essential for the 21st century and the future occupations hence the blended model of learning is the most effective.
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