Learn to learn
Blended learning, or b-learning, is a highly effective way of helping students achieve their goals, committing to them and learning a new language, if not many. But, what exactly is b-learning?
As we already mentioned in our post: “All the answers to your blended learning questions”, Blended learning is, essentially, the combination of traditional methods of education whilst taking advantage of a vast range of online possibilities. These can vary from video-formatted classes to relevant links and articles, or even online forums and webinars where students can interact and get direct feedback. Nowadays, it is absolutely paramount not only for the education itself but for businesses as well.
In order to understand the need for a complete 180-degree shift in the way we, as a society, conceive education and language learning itself, we should strongly focus on the needs of those called students. This is what blended learning seeks out the most: a redefinition of the learning process. We are talking about implementing technology in the educational field, in order to further boost students’ attention span and overall interest.
How blended learning redefines roles in education
While it has been shown that students can learn through a more traditional ‘in-class’ approach, it has also been proven that via an online platform and a more relaxed, “at ease environment”, peers show a dramatic increase in both productivity and language learning retention. It is all about the experience and, thus, with the redefinition of the learning process comes the assignment of new roles for teachers and students.
There are many positive contributions to combining an online platform with physical classes for your students.
For instance, the role of the teacher becomes that of a personal tutor to the many different needs people have. The teacher becomes a flexible mentor that helps those who have greater difficulty with learning, retaining and implementing the information; whilst challenging those students who have a better understanding and performance to dig deeper into the experience and not to stop their learning curve, and with it, their potential growth as well.
The core question when implementing a b-learning experience is: Which is the perfect combination that ensures the optimal basis for language teaching and learning in the particular context we are in? In order to do so, it is not only necessary for the teacher in question to understand the value that is added to the classes by utilizing technology, but also for students to be fully engaged and determined to take advantage of the many benefits blended learning offers to them. Those being: flexibility to their own specific schedules, a wide range of extra content that helps them consolidate the different concepts taught beforehand and, most importantly, how mobile education can be thanks to the technological evolution as such.
Building education identity
At Verxact we strongly believe in creating a learning identity unique and personal to every student, rather than implementing classes that students HAVE to attend, but don’t actually WANT to. However, we shall not misinterpret the concept itself. On one hand, face-to-face classes allow teachers or tutors to be in direct contact with their own pupils, and it definitely helps us to encourage team-work along with a better organization of in-class tasks overall.
Advocating for a blended learning experience lets students learn more, learn faster and, most importantly, retain more information along the process. Teachers no longer are unquestionable, imposed authorities, but rather a guide on which students can rely on to reaffirm their online language learning experience. We cannot stress enough how important this step is in the education process, as it facilitates a more personalized attention in accordance with the needs or doubts of each individual student.
This is done by a specialized treatment in the face-to-face classes, previously determined by the experience and capabilities of each person, online. This crucial web experience that students have on their own ensures a more effective and productive physical class, thus, accelerating that very same learning curve at home. Win-win. This is the main difference regarding traditional, boring, classes and b-learning’s approach: to be able to spark interest in students by giving them a platform where they can freely develop at their own specific rhythm, at their own pace.
Globalization and education
Blended course designers are typically faced with many problems along the way, the most common one being defining what activities are better suited for online and face-to-face learning. However, when applied successfully, the idea of blended learning serves as a connecting bridge between a broader community of language teachers and learners.
The Clayton Christensen Institute, pioneer in the theory of disruptive innovation (process by which a product or service initially takes root in simple applications at the bottom of a market – typically by being less expensive and more accessible – and then relentlessly moves upmarket, eventually displacing competitors) claims that blended learning usually works on one of these four different models:
- Flex: This model is based on students doing most of their learning online. However, this online activity is done at the school, and under teacher supervision.
- Rotational: As the name indicates, this model is based on the student being exposed to many different types or modes of learning. At least one of them is online or digital in nature.
- Enriched Virtual: Students receive one-on-one sessions with their teacher. Then, they complete the rest of the activities online independently and at their own rhythm.
- A la Carte: The entire learning process is done online by the student with the supervision of an online instructor.
At Verxact we are aware that since the invention of the Internet, the goal has always been to connect faster and better. And with the inevitable globalization process we have been going through, more and more academies, schools and even corporations are digging into the approach of better, globalized knowledge: blended learning.