Blended Learning Means More Student Engagement

Christina Cavage Christina Cavage

Blended Learning Means More Student Engagement

Blended learning, brick and click, tailored learning . . .we are surrounded by these terms today. However, do we know what they really mean? Can they benefit our students? Most
importantly, do we really understand the pedagogy behind them?

The brick is the traditional classroom setting. …

The traditional setting promotes a social and cooperative learning environment. It motivates learners through peer interactions and immediate teacher feedback. It allows
both teachers and students to address questions and confusions as they arise. The
click is the autonomous learning environment available through the web. Web-based tools allow learners to practice and acquire new language skills without classroom distractions, as well as self-direct their learning. Merging these two worlds together creates an environment that
meets a variety of learning styles, and a variety of both student and teacher needs. This merge is blended learning. Blended learning blends the social nature of the classroom with the self-paced environment available in a web-based setting (Clark 2001).

Blended learning does not mean a reduction of face-to-face class time. Conversely, it requires greater participation of learners, greater
interaction with content, and an overall greater level of engagement.

As ESL educators, we understand the importance of students being engaged. Traditionally, the more students are engaged, the more learning occurs. Following a blended learning model can increase learning by over 11% compared to that in a traditional classroom (Siltzmann, Ely 2009). The reason is simple. Students are more engaged with a digital tool over a
traditional text outside of the classroom. They can interact with content at their own pace, on their own schedule, receive reinforcement of course content, and self-select exercises and activities. Students have access to their language success outside the walls of the traditional classroom.

Blended learning can enrich our students learning experience through interactive activities and immediate feedback. We as ESL educators can be more informed about our students’ successes and failures, and perhaps even our own. Lastly, it offers both teachers and students a flexible solution. Students can practice when and where they like. Teachers can choose the most appropriate activities and customize course content to meet curricular and programmatic demands.

Christina Cavage is a professor of ESL at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Prior to joining SCAD, Ms. Cavage served as the Department Chairperson and Professor of ESL at Atlantic Cape Community College for 19 years.

Christina has  recorded a podcast about Blended Learning. Click here to listen to her podcast.

 References

Clark, Richard (2001). Learning
from Media: Arguments, Analysis, and Evidence.
Greenwich, CT:
Information Age Publishing.

Sitzman, T. & Ely, K.
(2009). Web-Based Instruction: Design and Technical Issues which Influence Training Effectiveness.
Retrieved Nov. 25, 2011:
http://webboard.adlnet.org/Technologies/Evaluation/Library/ Additional Resources/Presentations/ASTD 2009 Presentation Slides.pdf

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