What Is Blended Learning?

What is Blended Learning - Panopto Lecture Capture PlatformEducation is no longer just about putting pen to paper and memorizing facts. Today, forward-looking institutions are engaging their students through technology, as evidenced by the rapid growth in technology-assisted teaching and learning modalities. A 2012 study by the Babson Survey Research Group estimates that the proportion of students taking at least one online course had reached an all-time high of 32%. And in that same study, nearly 70% of colleges and universities reported that online education was critical to their long-term strategy.

In response, many education institutions have made it a priority to make blended learning options available to their students.

But what is blended learning, exactly?

Generally speaking, blended learning (also known as hybrid learning) is the integration of technology and media with traditional classroom activities. Although there are 4 basic models of blended learning, the possibilities are endless when it comes the ways in which instructional technologies are blended into a teacher’s pedagogical approach. For example, an instructor may choose to conduct part of his or her course online, or simply supplement traditional face-to-face lectures with online videos and readings in digital format. The flipped classroom is another type of blended learning scenario in which students view lecture material prior to class, then spend class time engaging in exercises under the supervision of the teacher.

Blended learning isn’t simply about mixing technology and teaching, however. The power in blended learning lies in its ability to improve the student experience. Blended learning combines the best aspects of face-to-face teaching and online instruction in ways that enables students to learn at their own pace. Under blended learning, students who have mastered a concept earlier than his or her peers can move on without having to wait, and students who need more time are not forced to move forward before fully grasping the subject.

Which technologies are used in blended learning scenarios?

Learning management systems, in-class response systems, tablets, smartphones, learning analytics — the sky’s the limit when it comes to the technologies used in blended learning environments. Social technologies such as online forums can provide a safe space for topic discussion.

However, the most common tool used in blended learning is video.

Using Video in Blended Learning Environments

For many educators, video is the primary delivery vehicle for blended learning content.

For example, flipped classrooms require students to review lecture materials prior to class. Most often this involves teachers recording short video lectures that typically include a screen recording of slides, a webcam recording of the teacher, a video of a demonstration — or a combination of the three. The video is then shared with students through the school’s learning management system (LMS) or educational video portal.

In other blended learning scenarios, instructors record videos for use as supplemental course material, designed to help students that are having trouble grasping concepts, or for those that wish to deepen their understanding of the subject. Alternatively, teachers can record tutorials to introduce students to software or equipment that will be used in subsequent classes. In the below video from the University of Birmingham, a professor details how a new software tool will be used in an upcoming course assignment:

Teachers don’t have to be the only ones in front of the camera. Many schools have turned the tables on classroom recording by using their video platforms for student skills practice and performance assessment. At the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, Business Communications students are recording their presentations to elicit feedback from fellow students and professors. And at Butler University, Physician Assistant students record themselves interacting with standardized patients using iPads. The recordings are reviewed by professors, who then return critiques of their students’ performances.

Try It For Yourself
If you’re interested in experimenting with a blended learning approach for your classroom, Panopto can help. Contact our team for a customized demo, or sign up for a free 30-day trial.

Published: September 23, 2014

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