The Data on Blended Learning: Unmatched Efficacy

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There is no question that today’s secondary school students find much motivation when using modern technologies. They are old enough to have the control and discipline required when involved with online coursework, and are thereby properly prepared for the degree of independent work demanded if they are to be successful. Still, a lot of the research done in this area suggests that older (post secondary) students fare better than those younger where course completion is concerned. This said, there is evidence to suggest that high school aged students increase their numbers in this category when Blended Learning strategies were employed (having had the added benefit of in-person instruction). Pennsylvania’s Mannheim Township Virtual High School is an excellent model of this data: though their overall success in e-learning was laudable, it could not curb the unfortunate 25% dropout rate. Upon instituting a hybrid in-class/online approach, completion rates skyrocketed to an astonishing 99% (Oblender, 2002). This is unmistakable evidence that that where online schooling is vulnerable, Blended Learning by definition alleviates and strengthens these areas of lack.

The hybrid classroom not only widens the amount of controlled learning time available, it simultaneously permits education to occur at an individualized pace. Instructors are available for in-person guidance, motivation, and observation of students, regardless of where they are in their course and the speed with which they are proceeding. Bringing the physical classroom into cooperative alliance with the electronic, indispensable resources (such as those offered in science laboratories, mathematics manipulatives, language, etc.) again serve to fill in the gaps left by an otherwise incredible online well (Oblender, 2002).

There are still more advantages provided by Blended Learning, not offered in traditional learning environments: firstly, there is a significant reduction in the need for textbooks. The information and ideas used in instruction are always current, as they are always renewing. The space within which learning occurs broadens considerably – arguably, even without limit – to include a “room” of professionals, communities, organizations, etc. at both a local and global level. In addition, pupils engaged in a hybridized classroom further their technological aptitude and proficiency to a greater degree than they would otherwise (Oblender, 2002).

Significantly, students at-risk will benefit from learning in a Blended classroom, specifically because of the increased opportunity for communication to work either with in-class peer groups or in cyber-communities during a shared activity. In 2002, Newlin, et al. observed that learners with an external locus of control and/or depleted feelings of self-efficacy will profit from such exchanges, due to the constant feedback received from peers and the sense of being accountable to those in the group. Since time spent with an instructor increases, the augmented guidance and encouragement provided engages students in deeper, more purposeful discussion.