Teachers and parents are always looking for the right scenarios to promote blended learning engagement. We see the potential in creating forums and using apps, websites and other virtual tools to promote creativity and higher-level learning.
Implementing blended learning takes practice in order to engage students, and allow them to be creative. It requires specific supportive guidelines for the use of technology.Click to tweet
The teacher always has a crucial role to play in blended learning situations. Teachers have the power to control the type and level of blended learning engagement. Here are some great ways to do just that.
5 Paths to Blended Learning Engagement
Teachers can guide practice and create expectations in these 5 ways:
1. Create and nurture the need to know.
With any effort towards developing interest for a topic, creating a need to know is an essential element in the process. Authentic projects where students find relevance to information and must use it to meet certain expectation or solve a problem builds on the natural curiosity and constructive impulses of a child. Using “need to know” motivations creates an intrinsic urge to understand the learning.
2. Combine collaborative work with virtual meetings.
Conferences can be used to help children with problem-solving, working together on projects, or for guided practice. Class meetings are useful when learning is meaningful and applied in context. Children need to understand the connections.
3. Set goals and milestones.
Provide a roadmap of where students are expected to go and the requirements of the final product. Set up moments online or offline to reflect on the current stage of progress and how it related to overall end goals. Have students reflect on their progress and problems and build constructive support systems for them to find their own answers.
Goals should be quantifiable and be developed around the needs of students. We can work with abstract tools towards concrete goals.
4. Student assignments can be individualized online.
Differentiating the expected learning is possible online. Higher-level engagement and products can be expected from those with a firm grasp of the concept. More remedial tasks and assignments to understand core concepts can help learners who are experiencing difficulty.
Differentiated instruction in a blended learning environment allows all learners to learn at their speed and level and to complete meaningful tasks that apply to their needs and interests.
5. Allow students to use appropriate online tools to learn core concepts.
There are so many educational apps, forums and social media platforms to help students understand and work with concepts. Here are just two excellent examples:
- The Khan Academy app allows teachers to tap into the flipped classroom concept for more individualized digestion of materials.
- TED-Ed, TED’s education initiative, offers educators presentations that work to provide information and development of core concepts.
Classroom forums can be created and managed by teachers to provide a place for students to ask questions and help each other while working on projects outside of the classroom.
7 Core Principles to Guide Instruction
Important elements to include in any instruction can be taken from the study Student Engagement in Blended Learning Environments with Lecture-Based and Problem-Based Instructional Approaches, published in the journal of Educational Technology and Society.
Truly useful at any level of instruction, they cited a framework by Chickering and Gamson called “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” These principles, easily adopted for any instruction, are:
- Increase contact between student and faculty.
- Provide opportunity for students to work cooperatively.
- Encourage students to use active learning strategies.
- Provide timely feedback on progress.
- Allow sufficient time for students to spend on a task.
- Establish high standards for acceptable work.
- Address different learner needs within instruction.
Teachers who follow these principles are creating an environment that supports a high level of learner engagement. Blended learning engagement is simply another form of instruction that helps students master concepts and work with the material at their level.