For the longest time in India, use of technology in learning environments was restricted to projectors and computer labs. Face-to-face teaching was upheld, the internet was left to the leisure of kids for entertainment. Gradually, online tutorial services picked up pace and the watershed year for online learning has been 2020. The inaccessibility of physical spaces for large congregations forced schools to switch to an online mode- and that is an important step to a better learning experience.
If one envisions a scale, traditional learning and online learning are its two ends. A blend of the two i.e. use of online learning interspersed with face-to-face teaching. Norm Friesen (2012) defines the term as “…. designates the range of possibilities presented by combining Internet and digital media with established classroom forms that require the physical co‐presence of teacher and students.”
Now, a blend is not restricted to only two things. Thus, blended learning too, has a wide ambit and numerous possibilities. Staker and Horn (2012) provide four models of blended learning:
1. Rotation model: A common example of this model is splitting the class up into two cohorts during the computer period. One cohort sits in class, put pencil to paper for notes while the other learns the practical. After a designated time period, cohorts switch. Expand this idea to envision more and smaller cohorts. The teacher can assign a modality of learning- online, group activity, individual- to different cohorts and set timings to switch. So, a few kids may be learning coursework online, a group may learn through a project and some individual kids use a face-to-face setup with the teacher.
2. Flex model: Students access coursework and learn online under the supervision of the teacher. Imagine going to school, to your class, powering up the desktop and starting from where you left the day before. You would be learning online, but in school with your progress being monitored by a teacher. Brining the online to school, literally.
3. Self-blend model: During the pandemic, some institutes offered their students institutional access to Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. The online facility for learning courses outside the curriculum is central to this model. Students may supplement their education with additional courses.
4. Enriched-virtual model: Granting students more independence in their learning, tis model minimizes the physical visits to schools. Students are free to pursue and learn the assigned coursework remotely. They may visit their teacher for guidance or a consult which is optional. This gives students a more flexible approach to learning.
Therefore, simply bringing school home, a switch to online cold turkey, does not embrace the numerous blends at the school’s disposal. A classic case of opportunity in calamity, the educational structures are faced with the opportunity of providing individualized learning. Here’s to awaiting an enjoyable blend of learning on the other side. A more visual read: https://www.christenseninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Classifying-K-12-blended-learning.pdf