Digital Learning Age: Mixing Online Learning and Real Teaching

It’s no secret that today’s society is heavily reliant on technology. The digital age has pushed its technological fingers forward into nearly every aspect of daily life. Phones are no longer just phones, they are powerful mini-computers. Cars can drive themselves. And refrigerators deliver the news and weather and tell you when you are out of milk. While some technology and devices serve little purpose other than to entertain and amuse, there are also a great deal of benefits and advantages garnered by the utilization of today’s available technology.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the University of Cincinnati’s online Master of Education degree program.

Digital learning age: mixing online learning and traditional teaching

Education through digital means can be highly beneficial, depending upon the source instruction. Online colleges have been in existence for a number of years, but their numbers have grown exponentially. Today, there are over 700 online colleges to choose from, covering over 23,000 degrees at all levels, including doctoral and certificate.

In addition to online colleges, the digital age has also delivered a number of online high schools, and even online elementary schools, such as Liberty University Online Academy.

The popularity of online schools and colleges has flourished in part due to the savings on tuition, but also due to increased flexibility, structured programs and customized learning plans. The online schools have also been a necessary addition to those needing to supplement their homeschooling, or for students with health issues who cannot often attend regular classes on a consistent basis.

The increase and availability of academic offerings and the rising enrollment numbers at online schools has not escaped the notice of those in public education. To better compete with the wide range of online schools available, as well as to offer a better curriculum with a wider focus on digital fluency, public schools and colleges have adopted blended learning programs.

Benefits of Mixing Online Learning and Real Teaching

Blended learning is not a new concept, but like the number of online schools, the number of public schools offering blended learning programs has grown exponentially. In 2,000, only approximately 45,000 students in the nation utilized or had access to online learning materials. Today, millions of students complete much of their coursework online, and modern technology facilitates learning and improves school completion rates.

Combining real teaching with digital coursework and instruction helps to improve efficiency both in and out of the classroom. The one-on-one instruction received through digital means complements the classroom instruction, while allowing students extra time to focus on areas they need more help with. Likewise, teachers can devote more attention to students who are struggling, while at the same time streamlining the lesson plan to enable all students to better grasp the material and improve learning potential.

Personalized Learning Based on Student Data

Many schools that have adopted blended learning programs are also utilizing intuitive data collection applications that can better track a student’s academic progress and pinpoint areas where the student might need more focused instruction. Based on the data collected, lesson plans for each particular student can be developed in a more personalized way, something that is difficult to do when just teaching a number of students in traditional classroom setting.

The blended learning method is more efficient, because instead of the traditional method of teaching, which consists of a teacher providing instruction to the class without any regard for each student’s academic prowess, blended learning enables students to spend more time on material if necessary and work at their own pace in order to better absorb the lesson plan.

Such advantages have contributed to student performance overall. A report by the U.S. Department of Education detailed that middle school and high school students who participated in blended learning programs showed more significant gains in academic performance. Blended learning also helps students to become more engaged with the material, and a study showed that students can better correlate the material they are being taught through both the online method and actual teaching.

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010, “instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.” This shows that technology alone is not the most advantageous means of providing education, but rather a facilitator and important component of a more efficient and effective teaching process.

Blended Learning Is Cost-Effective

Utilizing e-materials and e-textbooks saves money on regular textbooks, which need to be replaced often due to wear and tear or updating. Updates to textbooks and lesson plans can be done instantly, saving ample time as well.

With many colleges also using digital means of communication and education as part of a blended learning curriculum, engaging in blended learning in the K-12 years helps students better prepare for college. Digital fluency will be an ever-increasing aspect of importance in college and the future, and so early adoption of digital online components can only serve to strengthen a student’s adaptability to new and advancing technologies.

As such, the classroom today is a much different learning environment than it was only 10 years ago. While not every school currently teaches its student body using blended learning, and while not every school that does has implemented it in an efficient manner, the facts cannot be denied — when the right blended learning model is presented, students benefit immensely.

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