Expert insights

Blended learning – a combination of the best instructional methods

Classrooms may have evolved but instructors’ biggest question remains the same – how can lectures be delivered to help students grasp concepts better? Earlier, face-to-face lectures were interspersed with hands-on activities. Today, with the emergence of online courses, teachers can design the learning process in different ways. For instance, they can ask students to watch a video before class or complete an online assessment after class.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning has many names – hybrid learning, flipped classroom, mixed-mode courses, integrative learning. While there is no standard definition of blended learning, the main idea behind it is to optimise the learning experience by integrating elements of online learning with traditional face-to-face class activities or lectures.

Many believe that the purpose of blended learning is to replace a portion of the traditional face-to-face classes with online learning. However, this is not entirely true. The aim is to create value in terms of pedagogy and to improve the learning experience for all students. One research paper describes blended learning as a hybrid of classroom and online learning that includes some of the convenience of online courses without the loss of face-to-face (instruction) advantages. The ultimate goal is to enhance students’ understanding, retention of course content and improve knowledge.

How does blended learning benefit teachers and students?

  • It improves learning outcomes: A blended learning strategy matches what a student wants to learn with a suitable program.
  • It is affordable: There is an obvious financial advantage that comes from digital learning. There is no need to buy physical stationery; all material is gathered online, available to download, read and make notes. Blended learning also helps make teaching less expensive. For instance, a few years back, if a teacher wanted to bring an expert to the classroom, it would have taken a lot of time and effort. Today, she can find expert interviews online and can share them with students.
  • It saves time: With online learning materials, you as an instructor can spend less time on in-class lectures, supervising assessments, and grading.
  • It helps distribute control: While the teacher defines the learning sequence or path, the learner controls when and how she wants to learn and consume the content.
  • It improves communication: Blended learning improves students’ interaction with each other and with faculty. A student may not be able to get answers to all her queries due to time constraints in class. However, with online learning platforms or MOOCs, communication becomes easy. Tools such as discussion forums, announcements, and emails offer great flexibility in terms of ensuring timely communication.
  • It increases learners’ interest in the subject: When technology is integrated into classroom teaching, learners are more likely to be interested in and excited about the subjects they are studying.

Awareness about blended learning

Though bended learning is not new to India, not many know of the concept, let alone implement it in their curriculum. To bridge the awareness gap, IIMBx has been conducting Faculty Development Programmes (FDPs) with the aim of training teachers to transform the learning experience. Over the last three years, six FDPs have been conducted, where teachers have taken workshops and attended lectures in blended learning and its best practices.

Read more about the FDP here: http://www.iimb.ac.in/node/14730

Leave a comment if you’re interested in attending an upcoming FDP!

For more insights on the IIMBx team on blended learning, you can read some of our previous posts on how blended learning has transformed the classroom experience and helps distribute control between learner and instructor.   

[This post was written by Girish V Gurjar, Assistant Manager, MOOCs, IIMBx] 

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