What is the Value of Blended Learning?
Some people may say blended learning is key to the future of education. It mixes online education with traditional classroom learning, typically in a single setting, with access outside of the classroom for students and instructors. This method of education has been built to maximize the best of all learning worlds, but does it work? It’s hard to say as we’re still in the early days of it, but it’s showing potential.
Let’s review a few key ideas about blended learning. First, it costs money – potentially a lot. Instructors must have the technology, lesson plans, access for students, upkeep, etc. There are programs like Achieve3000 and Compass Learning to help, but it is something instructors often cannot implement without the support of their school or school system. Second, blended learning can take just about any form when put into action. It can range from using Google docs for all assignments, to complete program overhauls such as those being planned in New York City.
The New York City Department of Education implemented iZone (Interactive Zone). It launched in 2010 with 81 schools, and they hope to have 400 schools participating by 2014. Every school works off a base system and can adjust their blended learning program to fit the students in their school. The principles that the iZone framework strives to accomplish are also good goals for blended learning. It truly reinvents how education is approached and used.
Digging deeper, I found a blended learning infographic that explores this idea even further. It shows massive potential for growth, varying formats blended learning can take, and case studies in schools ranging from kindergarten to higher education. It ends the suggestion that there is a need for increased education technology to maximize the value of blended learning. While results in the case studies show great potential, the need to continue expanding technology, and adjusting it to create the perfect blend, reveal blended learning is currently undervalued and potentially very expensive at the same time. It may be a tough path to follow, but continued positive results would show us that it is a good long-term investment.