Blended Learning in K-12/The many names of Blended Learning

Blended Learning in K-12
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Blended Learning has been around for many years, but the name has changed as the uses and recognition have increased. Many people may be using a form of blended learning in lessons and teaching, but may not realize it or be able to give it an actual name. Blended learning is something that is used in the world of education as well as the world of business. Blended learning is not a new concept, but may be a new term to many users. Below is a list and explanation of just a few of the more common, but older, names of blended learning.

"You may hear blended learning described as “integrated learning”, “hybrid learning”, “multi-method learning” (Node, 2001). "The term "blended learning" is being used with increasing frequency in both academic and corporate circles. In 2003, the American Society for Training and Development identified blended learning as one of the top ten trends to emerge in the knowledge delivery industry" (cited in Rooney, 2003) (Graham, 2004).

Blended Learning - Descriptions Edit

Blended Learning: Learning methods that combine e-learning with other forms of flexible learning and more traditional forms of learning. (Flexible Learning Advisory Group 2004)

Blended learning (also called hybrid learning) is the term used to describe learning or training events or activities where e-learning, in its various forms, is combined with more traditional forms of training such as "class room" training(Stockley, 2005).

Blended learning is usually defined as the combination of multiple approaches to teaching. It can also be defined as an educational processes, which involves the deployment of a diversity of methods and resources or to learning experiences, which are derived from more than one kind of information source. Examples include combining technology-based materials and traditional print materials, group and individual study, structured pace study and self-paced study, or tutorial and coaching (Blended Learning, 2005).

Blended learning can be delivered in a variety of ways. A common model is delivery of "theory" content by e-learning prior to actual attendance at a training course or program to put the "theory" into practice. This can be a very efficient and effective method of delivery, particularly if travel and accommodation costs are involved. This mixture of methods reflects the hybrid nature of the training. (Stockley, 2005)

These explanations show how blended learning is viewed in different situations, different environments, and by different people. As is suggested blended learning involves the use of some technology as well as the use of more traditional methods to allow the student to work and learn at his/her own pace. Blended learning is a relatively new term. However, the ideas of this style of teaching and learning behind it are more common. The following is a list of synonyms or previous terms that are linked to blended learning.

Hybrid Learning - Descriptions Edit

"Hybrid instruction is the single greatest unrecognized trend in higher education today"—Graham Spanier, President of Penn State University (TLC, 2002).

Hybrid courses (also known as blended or mixed mode courses) are courses in which a significant portion of the learning activities have been moved online (generally 30 - 75%), and time traditionally spent in the classroom is reduced but not eliminated. The goal of hybrid courses is to pair the best features of face-to-face teaching with the best options of online learning to promote active and independent learning and reduce class seat time. Using instructional technologies, the hybrid model forces the redesign of some lecture or lab content into new online learning activities, such as case studies, tutorials, self-testing exercises, simulations, and online group collaborations (NJIT, 2005).

Using computer-based technologies, instructors use the hybrid model to redesign some lecture or lab content into new online learning activities, such as case studies, tutorials, self-testing exercises, simulations, and online group collaborations (TLC, 2002).

Hybrid courses seem to be the pre-step to blended learning. Hybrid courses involve a great amount of technology. They also greatly increase the independence of the student by allowing him/her to work at his/her own pace outside of the typical classroom. this is obviously a synonym of blended learning as the explanations and ideas seem to differ very little from those of blended learning.

Integrated Learning - Descriptions Edit

Teaching strategies that enhance brain-based learning include manipulative, active learning, field trips, guest speakers, and real-life projects that allow students to use many learning styles and multiple intelligences. An interdisciplinary curriculum or integrated learning also reinforces brain-based learning, because the brain can better make connections when material is presented in an integrated way, rather than as isolated bits of information (ASCD, 2005).

ILS (integrated learning system): A complete software, hardware, and network system used for instruction. In addition to providing curriculum and lessons organized by level, an ILS usually includes a number of tools such as assessments, record keeping, report writing, and user information files that help to identify learning needs, monitor progress, and maintain student records (ASTD, 2005).

As stated by Node in the introduction, integrated learning is also seen as a stepping stone to blended learning. This term shows a need for more methods of teaching than the traditional classroom can offer. This is of course the basis for blended learning. Integrated learning allows a teacher to provided instruction to students in a way that will be meaningful and interesting to each learner. This again is the main concept behind blended learning.

Multi-method Learning or Mixed Mode Learning Edit

As a capability, learning is often thought of as one of the necessary conditions for intelligence in an agent. Some systems extend this requirement by including a plethora of mechanisms for learning in order to obtain as much as possible from the system, or to allow various components of their system to learn in their own ways (depending on the modularity, representation, etc., of each). On the other hand, multiple methods are included in a system in order to gauge the performance of one method against that of another (Cognitive Architectures, 1994).

Node also mentions multi method learning and its connection to blended learning. Again it is not a synonym of blended learning, but instead a stepping stone. This shows a user how teaching outside the traditional box can and is more meaningful to learners.

e-learning Edit

"e-learning is a broader concept [than online learning], encompassing a wide set of applications and processes which use all available electronic media to deliver vocational education and training more flexibly. The term “e-learning” is now used in the Framework to capture the general intent to support a broad range of electronic media (Internet, intranets, extranets, satellite broadcast, audio/video tape, interactive TV and CD-ROM) to make vocational learning more flexible for clients" (ANTA 2003b, p. 5).

"E-learning (elearning, eLearning) is the newer, more encompassing term for those activities previously described by the term "computer based training". Computer based training has existed for many years now" (Stockley, 2005).

e-learning is not a synonym of blended learning, but is a major component of a successful blended learning unit. Without e-learning, there would be no real technology. Without technology, there would be little hope of blended learning. Therefore the concept of e-learning is a major aspect of blended learning and one that needs to be recognized and understood by those interested in blended learning.

Flexible Learning Edit

The provision of a range of learning modes or methods, giving learners greater choice of when, where and how they learn. See also Flexible delivery.

Describes an educational regime providing pathway choices and learner control of the learning process. (Google Web, 2005)

"The term flexible learning is referred broadly to mean increased learner choice in content, sequence, method, time, and place of learning. In addition it is also associated with increased flexibility in administrative and course management processes. However it is interesting to note that most literature refers to online learning as only a form of flexible learning, but there is a clear emphasis on the use of online technologies to achieve flexible learning goals" (VU TAFE, 2004).

Flexible learning aims to meet individual needs by providing choices that allow students to meet their own educational requirements in ways suiting their individual circumstances. Choices may be offered in:

time and/or place of study - opportunities to study on- and off-campus or combinations of both;

learning styles and preferences - the availability of a range of learning resources and tasks to suit individual needs;

contextualized learning - the ability to tailor some or all of the learning content, process, outcomes or assessment to individual circumstances;

access - flexible entry requirements, multiple annual starting points, recognition of prior learning, articulation between programs of study and cross-crediting arrangements;

pace - unit completion on the basis of achievement of specified competencies rather than according to a pre-determined calendar;

progression - flexible progression requirements and teaching periods allowing accelerated or delayed completion of study; and

learning pathways - degree requirements allowing choice in programs of study.

The student-centered approach underpinning flexible learning requires different teaching methodologies and also different relationship between teachers and students. In comparison to traditional educational models, flexible learning is broadly characterized by:

- less reliance on face-to-face teaching and more emphasis on guided independent learning; teachers become facilitators of the learning process directing students to appropriate resources, tasks and learning outcomes.

- greater reliance on high quality learning resources using a range of technologies (e.g., print, CD-ROM, video, audio, the Internet)

- greater opportunities to communicate outside traditional teaching times

- an increasing use of information technology (IT). Flexible learning is not synonymous with the use of IT but IT is often central to much of the implementation of flexible learning, for example in delivering learning resources, providing a communications facility, administering units and student assessment, and hosting student support systems.

- the deployment of multi-skilled teams. Rather than the academics responsible undertaking all stages of unit planning, development, delivery, assessment and maintenance, other professionals are often required to provide specific skills, for example in instructional design, desktop publishing, web development and administration and maintenance of programs (Centre for Felxible Learning, 2005).

Flexible learning is the main concept and reasoning behind blended learning. The point of creating blended learning was to allow flexible learning for the students. This term then is also a major aspect of blended learning. It needs to be recognized and understood by users in order to better create and deliver a blended learning unit to students.

As can be seen from the above examples and explanations, technology may not be a given to blended learning, but an addition. Instead we need to look at blended learning as using methods outside the traditional classroom and teaching to help interest and reach all learners. These methods could be using technology, or just some other form of teaching, like speakers or manipulative, to help all student learning, to reach all the students in the class.