Blended Learning, an approach to education that combines self-paced, tech-centered learning with teaching based on the student’s individual needs, is gathering momentum across the United Staes with more schools and colleges experimenting with it.
The Grand Canyon University in Arizona, the Carpe Diem school in Ohio, and Rhode Island’s Village Green Virtual Charter School are some of the institutions to embrace blended learning, an education trend aiming to transform education through its prioritization of personalized learning.
Village Green Virtual Charter School is a blended learning high school that combines online curriculum with in-class instruction. While teachers make sure students have access to the material and advice they need, students are encouraged to learn at their own pace through online technological tools and platforms.
A typical day at the school is defined by an emphasis on self-paced, personalized learning as “students will work on some subjects longer than others if they need to and teachers will work with different groups of students depending on which students need to learn the same skill at that point in their lessons.”
Students get to choose what to study each day, and the school assigns no homework because teachers strive to have students finish their homework in class. About four hours are spend on individual computer-based learning and less than two hours in traditional instruction-led classes, Village Green founder Robert Pilkington told US News.
Filippo Posta, a Grand Canyon University math professor, highlights the one quality of blended learning that makes it more efficient than the traditional learning experience:
“Blended provides a better approach because we are able to cover the procedural stuff in the lecture and expand on the concept by providing applications to the future careers of the students. They were happy they didn’t have to come to class one day, but they were also more engaged in class and actually working harder.”
Using asynchronous learning in which students have access to course material tailored to their needs means students are exposed to curriculum that can benefit both their academic performance and their career once they graduate.
According to GCU, data on the effectiveness of blended learning in a summer math class in which the hybrid learning was in place showed there were 60% more A’s — something that the GCU professor Filippo Posta attributes to students’ eagerness to use blended learning practices to personalize their learning. Students get to learn about things that are applicable and directly relevant to their careers as opposed to having to go through the same curriculum as everyone else.
Dr. Sherman Elliott, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU, argues that blending online and in-class learning seems to offer the best of both worlds. Students at schools and colleges that apply the hybrid learning principle are not discouraged from bringing their smartphones and tablets in class; on the contrary, they’re expected to use technology and online tools to advance their learning.
Personalizing learning according to each student’s needs and goals makes learning more appealing and relevant to students while encouraging them to work hard, supporters say.