What is blended learning?
Blended learning is an approach which includes learning in school and at home but it extends beyond online learning. A blended learning model involves a combination of ‘live’ interactions between the teacher and learner, and learning which takes place away from the direct presence of the class teacher.
A blended learning model can involve a range of learning experiences which take place in a variety of learning spaces, including outdoors. Whilst learners will experience online learning away from the school setting, blended learning can include activities such as research tasks, project work, practical opportunities, discussions and other activities that can be carried out away from a digital device.
Learning at home activities can help prepare learners to make the most of their learning at school. It can also provide opportunities for learners to consolidate, extend and enhance their learning to take account of their own and their family’s needs. Schools may provide access to pre-recorded lessons, presentations, lesson notes, diagrams or links to useful websites.
Myth busting about blended learning
Learning within a blended learning model does not:
- follow the normal time structure or routine of a school day. Following a 9:00 am to 3:00 pm routine is not necessary. Learners have the flexibility to complete their learning at times which are convenient to them;
- require to be limited to lesson times. Using resources and completing activities can be more flexible to suit the learner;
- need to take place in a classroom setting. Classrooms, outdoors, home environments can be used; or
- need to follow the traditional lesson format or steps. Learners are guided to a range of resources and/or activities by their class teacher and they have a level of choice over which order they engage with each one within the set timescale
Within a blended learning model, class teachers retain responsibility for planning and organising the learning.
What are the benefits of blended learning?
Blended learning can help learners benefit greatly from a range of relevant opportunities for personal achievement. It can help deepen a learner’s understanding of learning undertaken in school and then apply this in real-life situations. Learning can be further enriched and supported through engagement and partnership working with community providers and third sector organisations such as youth work, culture and sport.
Blended learning can offer learners:
- independence and flexibility over their learning;
- the potential for high quality consolidation of their learning;
- key learning that is available and can be revisited as often as required;
- opportunities to develop and improve their skills in working independently;
- further opportunities for personalisation and improved engagement in learning;
- opportunities which reflect the principles of Curriculum for Excellence and develop their knowledge, skills and attributes in a variety of relevant contexts;
- ongoing dialogue, reflection and feedback about their own learning;
- approaches to assessment of learning and providing feedback that support and capture learners’ achievements in school and at home; and
- enhanced parental engagement in their learning
What are the challenges of blended learning?
Learners undertaking a blended learning approach are required to adapt to some potentially new circumstances. It may require learners to complete tasks prior to and after working directly with their teacher.
Good communication between home and school is essential to ensure learning activities are engaging for everyone and additional support is in place for learners who require additional support or who may be particularly vulnerable or disadvantaged.
Having devices and internet data to access online learning can be challenging for some families. Local authorities have helped support learners to access online platforms during COVID-19. Laptops, devices and internet access have also been distributed to many families through the Connecting Scotland initiative. In local authority areas where access to online learning has not been possible, for whatever reason, many other innovative approaches which do not rely on technology, has been used to support learning at home.
Parents and families
Parents and families are not expected to be teachers. It is important, however, that they are aware of what blended learning is, what it means for their child and how they can continue to contribute positively and effectively to their child’s learning.
Your child’s school will be able to provide further information on any blended learning approach that they may be considering or are currently using.
- The National Parent Forum of Scotland have published a Nutshell on Blended Learning