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What is blended learning?

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What is blended learning?

  1. 1. K-12 online learning is growing rapidly and evolving in many different directions. As it evolves it ismerging with face-to-face instruction, and the result, blended learning, is likely the fastest-growingsegment in online learning. Other ways in which online and blended learning are evolving mixonline instruction with other elements of educational technology. Instruction may be entirelyclassroom-based, but use computers, the Internet, and other technologies to enhance learning.Keeping Pace 2010 explores many of these trends, but uses online learning—which we define asteacher-led instruction that takes place over the Internet, with the teacher and student separatedgeographically—as the starting point.2Many terms and definitions in the field, such as online learning, blended learning, hybrid learning,elearning, virtual schools, and cyberschools, do not have commonly understood definitions.Online learning is instruction via a web-based educational delivery system that includes softwareto provide a structured learning environment. It enhances and expands educational opportunities,and may be synchronous (communication in which participants interact in real time such asvideoconferencing) or asynchronous (communication that is separated by time such as email oronline discussion forums). It may be accessed from multiple settings (in school and/or out ofschool buildings). Blended learning combines online learning with other modes of instructionaldelivery.One of the misconceptions about learning online is that online courses consist mostly of readingon a computer screen. While this may be true of a few online programs, in most online coursesthere is a high degree of communication and interaction between teachers and students. In fact,many online teachers report that teaching online is more time consuming than teaching in aclassroom because of the amount of individual attention each online student receives. Courses aredelivered via a software package called a learning management system (LMS), which includescommunication tools, instructional tools, and assessment features.The teacher in online and blended courses is just as important as the teacher in the physicalclassroom. An online teacher’s roles include guiding and individualizing learning; communicationwith students; assessing, grading, and promoting students; and, in some cases, developing theonline course content and structure.2 A National Primer on K-12 Online Learning (Version 2, 2010), by Matthew Wicks and published by the International Association for K-12 OnlineLearning (iNACOL). Available at www.inacol.org

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