Blended Learning Ideas and Strategies You Will Benefit From

Blended learning models and examples abound - use this handy guide to blended learning strategies and ideas to help you identify which ones will work best for you.

Superprof - strategies for blended learning

Editor's Note: Superprof is THE place to find the perfect tutor - online or in-person, Superprof has a community of more than 18 million tutors around the world covering more than 1000 different subjects. We've partnered with them, and author Sophia Birk, to pass along some the blended learning strategies they've incorporated into their successful tutoring platform.

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As you know, blended learning is not a new concept in education. It’s been around for about 60 years, to one degree or another but it saw only limited use in compulsory education classrooms.
Until about two years ago, that is. That’s when we all got a hasty re-introduction to this method of teaching. Suddenly, we were all pawing through vast troves of articles and how-tos, trying to figure out the best ways to make this approach to instruction work for us and our student groups.

Most teachers figured out on their own what worked for them. Wouldn’t it have been nice, though, to have a definitive guide of best practices to draw on?

Now that schools are back in session and everything is more or less back to normal, many of us are reshaping our pedagogy to include the blended learning strategies we adopted during those frantic, uncertain times.

Here are a few ideas that will benefit both teachers and students to ensure that those efforts find success.

Make a Plan

This seems like an obvious first step towards building your blended learning program but you would be surprised at the number of teachers who roll from chapter to chapter of their curriculum with no clear plan on how they want to work the materials into their blended framework.
We all know how unpredictable teaching can be. For instance, students often express an interest in pursuing a topic in-depth; they may even veer off on a tangent relevant to the topic but not wholly of it. These types of ‘interruptions’ should never be discouraged but they must be managed, lest we lose control of our class and fall behind in our lessons.
Thus, determining which parts of the curriculum will be interactive and which portions will take place in the classroom is vital to your blended learning initiatives. You might decide to investigate those tangential topics in class if they’re particularly relevant while allowing students to tackle the standard lessons at home or online, for instance. 
Building such a framework allows you the flexibility to plan your lessons more effectively and it helps your students arrange their schedules because they know when to be in class, when they can learn online, and what will be discussed in either forum.

Choose a Model

One of the best aspects of blended learning is that it allows students to pursue topics they’re interested in while guiding the learning. To fully maximize that benefit, you might try flipping your classroom, as alluded to in the previous segment.

This strategy involves reversing the standard learning model of learning in school and exploring independently. The trouble with that approach is the lack of guidance for and oversight of students’ independent efforts. That’s why so many students appeal to private tutors as they struggle to work with the information they received just hours before, or concepts they’ve discovered on their own.
Reversing the practice entails your students exploring curriculum topics independently and exploring them – working with their newly-acquired knowledge in the classroom, under your guidance. 

You may create short videos to outline the lesson and build study sets on Quizlet or StudyStack to prepare your groups for the planned classroom activities. Those may include debates and presentations; maybe you could even invite a guest speaker for a lively Q&A session.
You might already have your preferred blended learning model(s). Maybe self-blend, when your student initiates their own learning or a balanced mix of independent online study and classroom time, but it’s always a good idea to try something new.

Who knows? Perhaps flipping might be the missing piece that will make your blended learning approach more successful.

Student Assessment

Typically, student assessment means a lot of work for teachers. Checking all that homework, reading all those essays, grading all those exams… That’s not the type of assessment this segment refers to.
One of the best by-products of blended learning is giving students ways to invest, mentally and civically, in their education. Thus, as your students evaluate their peers, they get to own more of their education.
Peer evaluation allows students to learn from each other’s strengths and lift each other out of weaknesses. It helps to foster empathy and removes one of the most prevalent excuses for bullying. It also creates an environment of mutual growth and self-discovery.

Naturally, you have to instruct them on proper assessment criteria and techniques; you might decide to provide them with a checklist so they can be sure they’ve conducted their assessment fairly and correctly.

Adjust Your Program

It’s amazing how little the teaching profession has evolved since the implementation of compulsory education nearly two centuries ago. Even all the technology at our disposal hasn’t spurred any major revolutions in the way we teach.

Blended learning, on the other hand, could drive a complete overhaul of educational philosophy. But only if it proves superior to standard educational practices and costs about the same. That’s why instructional design should lie at the heart of every blended learning initiative.
To achieve effective learning, you have to plan your instruction meticulously, drawing on all current learning theories to attain the optimal results for your teaching program and for your students’ learning goals. Thus, it follows that you would need to continuously optimize your program. 

For that, instructional design is the best template to follow.

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