“Blended learning is not just a trend, and we’re starting to see technology integrated in really intentional ways.”
Dr. Katie Linder, the director of the Ecampus Research Unit at Oregon State University rightly stated the above lines when asked about her views on the teaching in higher education. It is evident that technology is taking over the greater part of our education system but with these lines the question arises-
What is exactly Blended Learning?
Blended learning is a descriptive term assigned to the productive amalgamation of Learning Management system (LMS) with the traditional classroom learning methods. Blended learning is commonly also referred as “hybrid learning” and has a lot of possibilities to integrate innovative forms of learning and assessment methods into the curriculum of classroom education. The concept of blended learning dates back to the era of 1960’s when the formal terminology was not much developed so as to provide recognition to this term. Gradually it evolved with time and then in the year 1999 it was officially used in a press release addressed by interactive learning centers.
Why is it so effective?
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Earlier our education system lacked flexibility which inversely affected the efficiency to cater the difference that made every student a unique acceptor of knowledge. With the inception of blended learning, this gap formed by traditional learning got filled. Blended learning initiates various types of approaches that are suitable to target different types of learners in a space like classroom. With this sort of learning approach, every student’s strength and weaknesses gets an amplified recognition and this helps in the formation of effective strategies.
Different models in Blended Learning
Some researchers and educational experts have gone quite far into assigning a formal relevance to this concept and for that sake they have designed different types of models that can be incorporated in blended learning.
- Face-to-face-driver: The teacher drives the instructions enhanced by the application of tech tools.
- Flex: This model incorporates online platform for delivering the curriculum knowledge and the teacher is available in case the students have some queries to be answered.
- Rotational model: It proceeds according to the instruction given by the teacher and uses different traditional and digital learning methods.
- Self-blend: Students independently use tech tools to improve traditional learning methods.
- Online driver: An entire course is delivered using the online platform with regular teacher check-ins and face to face meetings in order to resolve queries.
How Online Assessment augments blended learning?
One of the major parts of blended learning is formative assessments. Formative assessment is a way to keep a tap on the learning and instructional process going on in a classroom. They can be conducted on a regular basis and being an informal form of assessment they can be designed to serve the immediate needs. But doing so with traditional methods can lead to frustration in teachers, limiting the usage of such an important aspect of blended learning. This is where online assessment establishes its mark.
Education Week Research Center survey found that 83 percent of district or school leaders said their teachers were using one or more digital tools for conducting formative assessments. Of that group, 32 percent reported general success with the tools, and 45 percent said they had mixed results.
The above mentioned research finding proves that a large number of schools are integrating digital tools in the formative assessments but only few are able to exploit this technology to its fullest. When teachers conduct online test that are formative in nature, they need to understand the necessity of selecting the right online quiz maker that justifies and enhances the qualities of the designed assessment. Online formative assessments in blended learning environment have an importance of their own which makes them an imperative part that can’t be ignored. Their significance can be experienced in following ways:
- Clarifying and sharing learning intentions and criteria for success
- Engineering effective classroom discussions, questions, and learning tasks
- Providing feedback that moves learners forward
- Activating students as the owners of their own learning
- Activating students as instructional resources for one another
Technology tools for learning and assessment are modifying education by drastically changing the way we create, acquire and share knowledge. The earlier established boundaries between formal and informal modes of learning are slowly getting diminished by the inauguration of the concept of blended learning. This has given rise in the usage of different types of tech tools including LMS and online exam maker software. Technology holds freedom for the learners to shift from one mode to another without the restriction of time, geographical, or institutional criteria’s. This is the reason why tech tools are the most sought-after choice for the teachers to conduct assessments and initiate learning in the K-12 environment.