Teachers and parents are always looking for the right scenarios to promote blended learning engagement. There is plenty of potential in creating forums and using apps, websites, and other virtual tools to promote creativity and higher-level learning. The trick with blended learning is it takes practice to engage students and allow them to be creative. Moreover, it requires specific supportive guidelines for the use of technology.
The teacher always has a crucial role to play in blended learning situations, and they can guide engagement effectively. Here are some great ways to do just that.
- Create and nurture their 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 learners 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.
- 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, and learners need to understand the value of such connections.
- Set goals and milestones: Make sure learning inventions are clear by providing a roadmap of where students are expected to go and the requirements of the final product. For instance, set up moments online or offline to reflect on progress and how it related to overall end goals. You can also have students build constructive support systems for them to find their own answers. Ultimately, goals should be quantifiable and developed around the needs of students.
- Student assignments can be individualized online: Differentiated instruction allows all learners to complete meaningful tasks that are relevant to them at their own speed and level. Higher-level engagement 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.
- 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. For example, 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, also offers educators presentations that provide information and development of core concepts. Classroom forums can even be created and managed by teachers for asking questions and helping 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.