Once upon a time, there was a kingdom, with wise but an old king. Everything was prosperous in that kingdom, but the king was too old to carry the burden. While the king was losing his power, another younger, energetic, but inexperienced king established his own kingdom. These two kingdoms lived together for a long time, but a time comes when the old king fails to solve new problems, and the younger king also fails to solve older problems. The story continues with a prince, who unites both kingdoms and succeeds in solving both older and newer problems. He collects best features of both kings in himself, so he becomes the future of both kingdoms, but nobody really knows which kingdoms does he come from and how he is going to reign.
This tale clearly describes the history of the development of blended learning. Where prince stands for blended learning, old king for face-to-face learning, and younger king for online learning. Both F2F and online learning fail to meet all necessary learning needs alone. Thus, the mixture of both learning modes is required to meet the needs. The blended learning provides the required mixture of modes, even though nobody really know whether it emerge from F2F or online learning. Nevertheless, blended learning compromises best practices of both modes, like social interaction from F2F learning and convenience of online learning. This is the main idea of blended learning to use best practices of present modes and pedagogies. The idea of blended learning is so new that nobody can clearly describe it. I believe this point provides ground for teachers to innovate and differentiate their teaching. Differentiation of teaching is one of the prevailing ideas of blended learning. This idea implies not only blend of F2F and Online learning, but also blend of pedagogies, methods, and learning settings.
The discussion of blended learning may seem too broad and blur. Actually that is true because, as I have already mentioned, there is no ready-made way how to blend. Blended learning is an attempt to gather in one the greatest achievement in education.
The blend of the best practices is the main predictor of the success and effectiveness of this new mode of learning. Blending is a new mode of learning, thus teachers can adapt the mode to their students, environment, and finally to themselves.
As a young and a techie teacher I believe that I am already using some elements that correspond with the main idea of blended learning. I use the Internet for various activities in the classroom. Besides my personal interest in using blended learning, we are also asked by the school administration to use such innovative educational models. I believe every teacher appreciate the model and implement it in their class. Also students will love to have technology in class as a learning tool.
At first glance everything might seem perfect. However, there are some obstacles in implementing blended learning. The first and I think the most significant and sensitive one is a shift for teachers. Teachers will have to rethink their role, methodology, and attitude to their job and to the technology. The real shift in teachers’ practice might be even more problematic. In contrast, the problems related to the cost of technology are simpler.
To sum up, blended learning is the future of education. This is not argued, but the question how to blend is still open. The implementation process of blended learning might not be smooth, but definitely the effectiveness will prevail the obstacles.
The last I would like to share a Ted Talk video on blended learning. I hope you will enjoy the video.