6 Elements Of An Effective Blended Learning Classroom

6 Elements Of An Effective Blended Learning Classroom
Summary: Giving rise to an interactive and informative learning experience, blended learning integrates online and offline learning. A suitable Learning Management System, well-defined course structure, clear learning objectives, and well-trained teachers make for a perfect recipe of an effective blended learning classroom.

What You Need To Build An Effective Blended Learning Classroom

As online learning takes over education, a new approach to K12 learning is emerging in classrooms across the world. Blended learning integrates face-to-face instruction with digital education to give rise to a powerful learning experience. It calls for a significant departure from the two individual methods and constitutes a fundamental re-orientation of teaching practices.

Blended learning offers immense advantages to students – they stand to benefit from the structured practices of the classroom while learning at their own pace, owing to the adaptive and personalized nature of online learning.

Educators must then focus on developing blended learning courses that can effectively merge these two techniques to create informative and interactive learning environments.

Building an effective blended learning classroom requires careful planning and preparation. The following best practices are helpful in creating a successful blended classroom environment.

1. A Comprehensive Learning Management System

A comprehensive Learning Management System (LMS) is a prerequisite for creating an immersive learning environment. It should serve as a central repository of information –course material, assignments, web resources, etc.– open for access and use to all students.

It also acts as a simple system to assess student progress through assignments, etc. A good LMS offers flexibility, ease of use, and unhindered accessibility. It should also make it easy for both students and educators to access, streamline, and track course-related information.

2. A Well-Defined Course Outline

At the very outset, teachers must prepare a definite course outline to guide learners – they must lay out course content and structure and the tools to be employed for instruction. The course outline should include course resources, objectives, assignment details, assessments, and their grading percentage.

Teachers must also clearly define the parts of the material that would be covered online and those that would form part of classroom meetings. They must also clearly state hardware and software requirements.

A well-defined course outline helps students keep track of their learning, a necessity in a course that promotes independent learning. The teacher can use the outline to keep track of course progress and pace.

A suitable assessment strategy will help teachers identify improvement areas and work on them to achieve improved learning outcomes. Educators must also plan suitable assessment strategies to create a holistic blended learning program. Determining the optimal strategy to test learning outcomes and tracking course progress is essential – they have the option of conducting online quizzes, in-class objective or subjective assignments, classroom discussions etc.

3. Clear Learning Objectives

Teachers must identify and define clear learning objectives to help students understand what they can expect from a course. An effective blended learning classroom mandates a definite understanding of course goals before educators start creating content. The objectives serve as a roadmap, helping everyone understand where learning is headed and the topics that need to be covered to successfully achieve course objectives.

There should be adequate clarity in establishing how to 'blend' online with the established methods of teaching. To determine course objectives, teachers must identify the skills that the learners should develop during the course; the information to be included; and the types of training tools and activities that form part of the course.

4. Consistent Aesthetics

Imagine a Learning Management System with constantly shifting elements and changing layouts. Not only would this result in a great deal of confusion, it would also obstruct smooth learning. Thus, consistent aesthetics imperative to bringing about focus and concentration in students.

The basic structure and layout of the LMS should be consistent with adequate visual and graphic elements to aid understanding. There should be uniformity in terms of the format of videos, assignments, games, etc., helping learners navigate through the course material without getting confused. This goes on to boost the overall readability and student engagement.

5. Good Communication

Effective communication between the teacher and students needs to be established to achieve improved learning outcomes in a blended learning program. There should be an adequate exchange of queries and feedback with regular classroom discussions. Teachers can provide their contact information and encourage students to communicate in case of queries and concerns to establish a favorable rapport. Toward the end of a course, they can also engage learners in live or online surveys, evaluations, and opinions on the quality of the course and its delivery.

Providing regular and constructive feedback is an important element of effective communication. By opening up lines of communication, teachers can indicate the availability of a perennial support system.

6. A Well-Trained Teacher

A blended learning course necessitates the proper teacher training to facilitate optimal learning. They must understand student needs and accordingly design courses. Effective blended-learning professional training must include instructional approaches that are based on understanding student perspectives. By encouraging teachers to experience blended learning as learners, they receive the first-hand experience that’s required to create relevant and interactive content for students.

Since blended classrooms can be difficult to plan and manage, teachers must also be trained in management strategies tailored for such classrooms. They must be well-versed with the technology required to execute blended learning, and thus need training on software and hardware management as well.

Final Word

There can be no denying the fact that online learning is here to stay. The importance of blended classrooms in this context becomes clear. In a hyper-connected world, both physical and virtual learning spaces matter. Educators must catch up with this trend and help students succeed through an effective blended learning approach.