January 31, 2017
A Parent's Guide to Blended Learning: Frequently Asked Questions
As a parent, it's often challenging to find a learning program that meets all of our child's needs. Every child is unique. What works well for someone else's child, may not be the best option for our own. As technology grows, new learning environments open up for students. One of the most popular education advances, "Blended Learning," allows students far more independence and control over their own education. What is this learning method and how can it work for your child? Consider some of these commonly asked questions:
What is Blended Learning?
Although this learning model is about two decades old, new technology is responsible for the increased spotlight and public awareness. Unlike traditional classrooms where every lesson is delivered face-to-face by a teacher, blended learning combines your child's education with both face-to-face lessons and interactive online lessons.
There are many unique types of blended learning models. Some place emphasis on both teachers and computer lessons together while other models focus almost exclusively on computer lessons alone. Regardless of the type, blended learning allows students more access to personalized lessons and greater educational independence. Research from The United States Department of Education reveal a number of positive benefits behind blended learning models.
What Types are Available for my Child?
Although a huge variety of blended learning models exist, 6, in particular, stand out for their success and effective teaching methods. As a parent, these models allow you to careful choose what type of blended learning model you feel is best for your child.
- Face-to-Face Driver Models
This model is closest to a traditional classroom. A teacher still provides the majority of lesson material; online instruction is offered as a supplemental tool for either remedial lessons or advanced courses. Students who struggle to keep up with the class often benefit from this method. It allows them tutoring and extra learning tools to help them catch up. Also, students who tend to work ahead of the class enjoy supplemental online classes that provide fresh challenges.
- Rotation Models
Rotational models balance traditional classroom lessons with technology. Students are assigned to a schedule that rotates between face-to-face learning and time in the computer lab where online lessons are offered. Many students enjoy the variety this learning model provides. This model reduces restlessness and classroom boredom by keeping the learning environment fresh and full of teaching variety.
- Flex Models
Although a teacher still oversees the classroom, flex models provide almost exclusive online learning. Although students work independently through self-guided lesson programs, the teacher is still present in the classroom to provide help and guidance where needed. This model is perfect for students who work best alone; this method allows them to work at their own pace without distraction. Parents often choose this method if their child has severe social anxiety or other behavioral issues that prevent them from enjoying traditional classroom learning.
- Online Lab Model
Teachers are eliminated completely with this learning model. Students receive lessons entirely through online learning programs. Throughout the week, students meet at designated computer labs or classrooms for their lessons. This allows them needed interaction and the opportunity for friendships with fellow classmates. The class is still overseen by a trained adult, but this may not necessarily be a certified teacher. However, face-to-face teacher interaction is still possible by request or appointment. This model is almost exclusively controlled by the student. Your child will determine their learning pace and even receive the opportunity to choose some of the courses they wish to take. This model is great for independent, driven students.
- Self-Blend Model
Currently, this model is most popular with high schools. Students receive traditional classes with face-to-face teachers. However, students who excel past their basic classes are given the opportunity to take online classes, usually advanced placement courses. These classes may be taken at home via the internet or during free hours at school. Because these classes are given as extra opportunities, students who take them are usually highly motivated, and exceptionally driven. If your child is gifted and easily surpasses their current grade work, a self-blended model is perfect to keep them properly challenged and motivated.
- Online Driver Model
As the exact opposite of face-to-face learning, online driver models offer students the ability to learn in whatever environment they choose through strictly online-based classes. Parents who wish to homeschool their children but still provide high-quality material often choose this learning model. They can still control the quality of their child's environment without losing valuable lessons. Online driver models give students the option to chat online with teachers and even fellow students. This prevents them from feeling isolated. This learning model also gives students and their families greater flexibility with school hours. Students who are not able to work traditional school hours can choose the learning times that suit them best. Although some check-ins and online meetings may be required, students and their parents still control a large portion of this learning option.
What are Some of the Potential Benefits?
From a teacher's standpoint, blended learning remotes a great deal of pressure and classroom crowding. Teachers who offer supplemental online classes enjoy the time and freedom to offer more one-on-one instruction rather than trying to teach an entire classroom for the whole class duration. Classroom crowding is also eliminated by offering online classes students can tap into remotely from their own computers.
However, the greatest benefits are experienced by students themselves. Parents who choose to enroll their child in a blended course often regret not making this decision sooner. Some of the greatest benefits include:
- Increased independence and responsibility
- Greater motivation to learn
- Personalized learning tools
- Better classroom environments
- Access to advanced lesson material/Greater academic challenge
- Better college preparation
How do I Enroll my Child in a Program?
Perhaps your child's current school doesn't offer any blended learning options (of course, Method Schools is always an option in that case!) If you are concerned about the quality of your child's education or feel they are not reaching their potential, consider enrolling them in a high-quality blended learning program. Talk with your child and discuss some of the types and possible benefits. If your child is older, allow them to help with this decision process. Look for a program that offers the learning model you and your child have chosen.
Although any new program will come with a definite "learning curve," be patient with your child as they acclimate to the new program. However, many students immediately love their new program. Some parents quickly notice visible improvements in their child's grades and even their attitude. Although blended learning may not be best for every student, take time to consider this important educational opportunity. It may change your child's life.