Whether by choice or situation, we’re all now familiar with the idea of home schooling and/or virtual learning. Given the fact we don’t know what the future holds in terms of virtual learning, the question becomes: What will the “new normal” look like for home schools in the U.S.?”
BLENDED LEARNING IN THE “NEW NORMAL”
We’re a full year into the pandemic now. Many of us are working remotely from home. Many schools are still operating virtually rather than in-person. Traditional ways of teaching and learning have been upended. Distance learning is very much a part of the “new normal” and home schooling is no longer something “unusual” in terms of educating our children. More important than almost any changes we’re seeing is the fact that, via home school arrangements, students have, more than ever, been “released” to learn at their own pace.
“Because of distance learning, teachers have created inclusive learning environments using … asynchronous video that let students rewind and replay as needed. Teachers have also provided technology supports, which might otherwise have only been used as accommodations, for all students.” (https://medium.com/understood-org/schools-for-all-why-2021-is-the-year-for-inclusive-learning-17263dece3b4 )
HOW BLENDED LEARNING IS DIFFERENT FROM HOME-BASED LEARNING
Blended learning (BL) has been around as a teaching approach for some time. BL offers an excellent opportunity to combine the ideas of instructor-led learning and digital learning, while giving students full opportunity to learn at their own pace.
Blended learning, when used in a traditional school setting, includes teacher-directed lectures, studies and activities with digital learning assignments. New approaches to BL can mean the student has an opportunity to mix home-based activities with in-school learning while using both online and offline learning approaches in each situation.
The advantages of blended learning in a home-based learning situation include:
- Parents have the opportunity to support their children throughout the learning process,
- Home-based (home schooled) learning can be focused on encouraging children to take personal ownership of their learning. Students are given the latitude to:
- Plan their own home-based learning activities,
- Set their own learning goals,
- Find help from the right learning sources, and
- Take the time to reflect on/self-analyze their learning plans and progress.
In this way, parents can encourage their children to take ownership of their learning and can work with their student(s) to set common ground rules and provide a home environment that is amenable to learning.
BLENDED LEARNING TRENDS 2021
Although the StratXExL experiential learning site (https://www.stratx-exl.com/industry-insights/blended-learning-trends ) tends toward business education programs, the focus on 2021 blended learning trends, transfers successfully to K to 12 education programming. Some of the trends most applicable to HBL include:
1. Recent studies indicate that learners are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read web research results or respond to other messaging. Video training is becoming the newest tool in the blended learning toolbox.
2. Learning modules must be shorter to deal with the side impacts of students with shorter attention spans. Video training modules must be short and focused and create challenges that will keep learners engaged.
3. Everyone, including school-age kids, are experiencing life at a much faster pace, and now the past “lost year” will cause us all to be trying to catch up at warp speed. All e-learning tools should be available on smartphones and tablets to accommodate where K to 12 kids spend the biggest chunk of their time. Sometimes a laptop is not available, but smartphones and tablets are generally close at hand.
4. The need to gather, filter and re-purpose educational content to add value to existing learning platforms is going to be a key purpose in 2021 and beyond.
5. The concept of “e-learning” must be re-purposed. “Online learning” or “micro learning” or “mobile learning” are more descriptive of newly modernized learning approaches.
6. In order to determine if there is a real educational “return” on new mobile learning efforts, more emphasis will be placed on assessing the real needs of learners and measuring impacts on student performance. Technical tools to complement the education process will be in high demand.
7. The idea of creating a risk-free environment for students to practice and adopt what they’re learning will become increasingly important.
8. Don’t discount the value of in-person learning time. Now is not the time to completely abandon classroom time and the value of person-to-person interaction and opportunity for discussion. Kids continue to need communication and contact with a teacher-figure.
THE FUTURE OF BLENDED LEARNING
In 2021 and on to the future, blended/hybrid learning will become the “new normal.” The concept will expand far beyond the old “e-learning” ideas of just five or six years ago. Less than a year ago – in May 2020 – we quoted a Forbes article that summarized the fact that blended learning will be the new educational benchmark. Here’s the reference:
“A headline in the April 13, 2020 issue of Forbes tells the reader that ‘The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Unleashed A Revolution in Education: From Now On, Blended Learning Will Be the Benchmark.’ The author of the article, Enrique Dans, writes that ‘The change will be permanent: educational activity will no longer be face-to-face or online but a blend, able to move from one to another immediately fluidly, continually, through a student’s life, way beyond the school, college or university years. In today’s world, we are all required to continually learn and unlearn, and we will demand conceptual frameworks and tools for it. Institutions, academic directors, teachers or students who are unable to adapt will simply have no place in this new scenario.’ “ (https://www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2020/04/13/the-coronavirus-pandemic-has-unleashed-a-revolution-in-education-from-now-on-blended-learning-will-be-the-benchmark/#36cbf760536f)
To slightly paraphrase a recent article by writer Peter Merrigan, it can be said that learners experience a greater level of self-achievement with blended learning than with traditional learning models. In addition, blended learning facilitates the learner’s desire to increase their own knowledge base. Combining face-to-face learning with blended learning techniques aids in personal advancement and achievement for home school learners. (https://safesetters.com/blog/blended-learning-the-future )
Blended learning is the go-to education model for 2021. It’s time to make blended learning work for everyone in the K to 12 education world.
If you’re looking for all the benefits of homeschooling with the addition of real, certified teachers, check out International Virtual Learning Academy. IVLA is an Accredited International Online Private School. Learn more at: https://internationalvla.com/