How Blended Learning Could Help Schools and Students Balance and Adapt

There’s a pressing question that seems to be on everybody’s mind this summer, especially for students and their caregivers. 

What will school look like in the fall?

As we’ve seen, efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have been met with varying levels of success across the world and from one state to the next. At the same time, rates remain in flux, changing by the week or sometimes by the day. 

There’s no single solution for the back-to-school question that will neatly solve the problem for every district in the country. 

Still, for areas in which the virus has been better contained, blended learning may represent a promising path forward. It’s an idea that’s gaining ground from the hills of Scotland to the five boroughs of New York City.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning refers to an educational environment that combines physical attendance in a brick-and-mortar setting with virtual learning modules that can be conducted remotely.

Essentially, it’s a mixture of in-person teaching and online instruction.

How does blended learning work?

There are many different ways that blended learning can be implemented, but they’re all focused on reducing class sizes so students can practice social distancing effectively.

Some methods for instituting blended learning include:

  • Groups of students attending class at different times of the day. Some may be in school in the morning and complete the rest of their lessons for the day remotely. Others would do the opposite.
  • Different groups of students may attend the school on alternate days or weeks, too.
  • Blended learning models may incorporate bubbled groups of students.

What are the benefits of blended learning?

Of course the primary benefit of blended learning is that it enables students and instructors to practice social distancing. 

By thinning class sizes with this method, students can sit farther apart from each other, which might lower the risk of the virus spreading should any one individual be a pre symptomatic or asymptomatic carrier.

Additional benefits of blended learning could include:

  • A sense of continuity for returning students.
  • The ability to leverage multiple teaching strategies that benefit different learning styles.
  • An opportunity to smoothly pivot toward more online or in-person learning as circumstances change.

What’s needed for blended learning?

As with remote learning, districts will need to be able to ensure that all students have access to the technology needed to participate in the virtual portion of blended instruction.

Additionally, school communities will need to communicate a clear blueprint for how blended learning will proceed at their institution.

Educators also need access to instructional tools and training to prepare for the unique challenges of blended learning.

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