What is Blended Learning
What exactly is Blended Learning?
Blended Learning is a method of teaching that uses both computer based activities and face-to-face teacher training. It is a hot topic as many schools and universities increasingly use computers in the classroom or base their curriculums around material provided online.
Initially, computer resources entered the educational scene as support mechanisms to classroom teaching or lecturing. However, true Blended Learning is more than just a series of links to supporting material. Blended Learning today often involves online communities, learning apps or games, and even online (rather than classroom) teaching. One technique – dubbed ‘flipping’ – involves the student self-studying with all lectures and information being delivered online, then classroom or lecture time being used just for question and answers on materials already learnt (“school work at home and home work at school,”).
This latter model (flipping) is close to the one Rosetta Stone has developed with their team of native tutors. Language learners actually study their vocabulary and language points through the Rosetta Stone software. The tutorial sessions, that all happen remotely, are in support of this computer based learning. Tutors are there to make sure students are progressing well and to help them to gain speaking confidence – rather than to actually teach the language. This brings big efficiency gains as learners can take the time they need to reach different points in the syllabus and actual interaction time is spend on conversation not explanation. See the immersive learning video
What are the advantages of Blended Learning?
Flexibility of Blended Learning – whenever and wherever
Remote learning is a fast growing phenomena that is enabling the spread of learning around the world. The ability to log on and learn, not just through software, but actually with other students and with tutors, means we can recreate the classroom experience almost anywhere. This is especially pertinent for those who are a long way from good native tuition, or from anyone that speaks their learning language, but even for people with easy access to good schooling, this is a much easier and more time efficient way to learn.
Flexibility of Blended Learning – choice of topic
One problem that many learners have, especially if it is not there first time with the language, is that they find themselves repeating material or learning phrases for situations that they are either not interested in, or that are not relevant to their needs. With the kind of Blended Learning provided by Rosetta Stone this isn’t an issue. The students themselves are in charge of deciding which part of the programme they want to learn and don’t have to do every Unit if they don’t want to. For example, if they’ve already done the basics of meeting and greeting in a previous class, they can skip this and move onto the next part of the course. It’s hard to get this level of flexibility in a taught environment, you certainly won’t find it in a standard classroom. With Rosetta Stone’s large team of online native tutors, students can access the teaching they want at a time that suits them.
Flexibility of Blended Learning – At your own pace.
One big advantage of using technology to lead the learning process is that students can learn at their own pace. If a learner needs more time to fully understand or to memorise a language point then they can take this time. Meanwhile faster learners can move on. As already stated, with Rosetta Stone learners can book their online tutorials when they are ready for them, so there is no need to wait, nor to hurry – the pace of learning is rests in the hands of the learners themselves.
“There will always be students who fall behind or succeed in such a way that they need to be challenged further. Because online learning works at a student’s own pace, each student in the class makes more efficient progress than if they forced to work in line with the average classmate.”
Affordability of Blended Learning
Hiring classrooms, paying teachers, transport to and from school – these are all expenses avoided through online tuition. Couple this with the efficiencies you get when the hard part – the learning – has already been done in advance, and Blended Learning looks very cost efficient. Lesson time is not wasted and can be condensed into bite-size sessions that are not only cheaper, but more rewarding.
Time efficiencies and flexibilities of Blended Learning
Travelling to your class, having to book out the same time slot every week, wasting time while you wait for other learners to catch up. All these frustrations are avoided when you learn at your own time and pace online. Rosetta Stone’s half hour intensive tuitions session can be booked by students when they are ready for them and at a time that suits them.
Accurate and personalised assessments with Blended Learning
Assessment is easy and transparent when learning is happening online. It is also non-judgemental and unemotional. Learners’ progress can be accurately tracked and everyone knows where they are in the programme. One advantage is that this helps ensure that everyone who attends an online tuition session is at a similar level and has leant the relevant vocabulary and language points.
What are the challenges of blended learning?
When teachers and academics talk about the challenges of Blended Learning they usually refer to the difficulties of effectively integrating technology and multiple resources into their existing curriculums. The amount of material available can be daunting for educational professionals who may have started their career relying on just one text book. It can take a lot of work to make this change effectively and, in the worst case scenario, both teachers and pupils can end more confused by a badly managed attempt at Blended Learning.
Software-led tuition is different. So called ‘flipped learning’ curriculums, such as that provided by Rosetta Stone, lets the software lead the learning. The software provides a pre-defined structure that is easy to follow and transparent for all. Goals and outcomes are absolutely clear, progress is tracked and assessed. This leaves the tutors free to concentrate on what their best at: ensuring the learning has been understood and absorbed, that pronunciation is correct and enjoying the interaction.
Are there any other major language learning companies offering a Blended Learning?
We are ready to be corrected on this one, but it seems not. Many of the language learning apps available online use pronunciation training and some offer online personalised tutoring as an additional upgrade. There are also separate portals for online tuition alone. However, none of the major players offer tuition as in integral part of their learning programme. Rosetta Stone appears to be the only language learning system that has really embraced the concept of blended learning. Find out what Blended Learning Looks like in practise. Try the Rosetta Stone Demo