What is Blended teaching?

Blended teaching or hybrid teaching is another game-changing method of teaching. Blended teaching uses the best of the two learning environments which is, the traditional brick and mortar classroom setting and the new-tech online learning or eLearning method. With a proper design of the blend, this method can cater to all types of learners with different paces.

In recent times blended teaching has redefined the way the education industry is functioning. Due to the break out of the COVID 19 pandemic in the early months of 2020, educational institutions across the globe were shut down. The learners were brought online and the teaching shifted from the classroom to the homes of the learners. As the pandemic eased out many schools started offering blended teaching options to the learner. Most of the classes were conducted online and learners were encouraged to participate in classroom teaching whenever it was convenient to them.

During this period, it was observed that the learning outcomes were better as the online learning offered personalised, self-paced learning. It also made learning more engaging and fun with videos, games, quizzes, tutorials and many more interactive activities.
A classroom provides an opportunity for face-to-face learning, collaborating in real-time, group interaction and spontaneous sharing, online learning offers different methods and tools for disseminating knowledge. Blended teaching combines the best of both.

A precursor to adopting blended teaching as a game-changer method of teaching:

Before a teacher decides to adopt blended teaching as a preferred method of teaching, a teacher should know what it entails. Most importantly, the teacher needs to be familiar with the optimal use of technology. This could be as basic as uploading the lesson on the learning platform to designing interactive content or sourcing relevant multimedia content.

The second factor a teacher needs to understand while adopting blended teaching is that the blended teaching shifts the teacher’s role from knowledge provider to coach and mentor. That means now the teacher has a bigger role to play, she can influence the learning outcome of the learner to a greater extent. With the change in teaching method, from teacher-centric learning, it now becomes a learner-driven, personalised, bottom-up approach with a focus on differentiation.

The third important factor in blended teaching is the Learning Management System (LMS) used for online learning. The LMS should provide flexibility to the learners and should be easy to set up and use. Some of the popular open-source LMS are:

The fourth important aspect to be considered while adopting blended teaching is pedagogy. Blended teaching requires a completely new pedagogy that keeps the learners engaged.

Some of the learning elements that can be incorporated while designing the pedagogy are:

Anytime, any size and anywhere learning: this element is the key to the success of blended teaching. Smaller bite-sized learning modules can help learners access content on smartphones, tablets or any other devices easily.

Use of multimedia: short videos, lectures, simulations, virtual labs can be used to make learning more engaging.

Informal self-directed online learning: learners should be encouraged to learn from open educational resources and mass open online courses. This element of pedagogy when included in blended teaching encourages learners to adopt self-directed informal learning.

Providing learners independence, choice and control over the learning content and form: Learners can access content from online various sources. This shifts the emphasis on the important and relevant aspect of the topic.

Looking at the benefits of blended teaching which gives a learner the freedom to choose the pace of learning, sequence of topics, place and time of learning and the duration of learning period it can be easily predicted that the blended teaching is here to stay and could be the most used learning methodology in the coming years.

How can a teacher master the blended teaching methodology which is changing the game of teaching? Some tips to be the master of the game are:

Learn the technology, be it using the learning management system, recording lessons, uploading the content or an online assessment.

Study the various LMS, assessment platforms, open educational resources (OER), mass open online courses (MOOCs), open lectures, YouTube videos, and make a selection of resources that are important and relevant to the course.

Plan and design the lessons to include various learning aids and methods.

Be a mentor and coach to your learners based on their learning style and needs.

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