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How Blended Learning Can Drive Education in the Year Ahead

blended learning
(Image credit: Pixabay)

As we enter 2022 much like we entered 2021, we are uncertain of when the pandemic will end and unsure of what the ongoing health crisis means in the operation of schools across our nation. 

One might begin to consider that we are entering an endemic. According to a publication from Columbia Universities Mailman School of Public Health (opens in new tab), the World Health Organization (WHO) identifies and declares a pandemic when a disease has spread exponentially each day more than the previous days. It is declared not according to the type of disease or severity of disease but rather by the spread and its impact on the world’s populations. An endemic is when a disease is consistently present but limited to a particular region, such as malaria, for example. Endemics are ongoing and become a way of life with some predictability in how diseases are spread. 

Perhaps it is also time to appreciate what we’ve learned along the way. We’ve certainly grown in better understanding grace, patience, forgiveness, collaboration, and the value of human beings supporting the community in selfless acts of kindness and support. Schools have also learned to be agile. 

Agility in schools requires compassion and planning. Students remaining at the focus of our attention are attended to for their social and emotional well-being as well as their academic progress. To continue doing this, teachers need support and resources, and leaders need guidelines and the freedom to implement those guidelines within their respective districts and schools. 

We saw a lot of this in 2021 and we will no doubt see much more in 2022. District leaders will be analyzing what has been working and what isn’t, and making necessary adjustments. They will need to consider past, current, and future practices, and refine strategies that support learners with a more agile and holistic learning environment.

Blended Learning Can Lead the Way 

One strategy districts continue to return to for academic improvement is blended learning. The model provides flexibility, allowing some students to learn face to face while others are online, or blended instruction for some instruction to be online while other instruction is face-to-face. 

No matter what flavor of blended learning your district adopts, there is plenty of research behind it. Research is essential in not only helping you understand how to improve your blended learning implementation but also how to measure the effectiveness of your program. 

Finding research is sometimes time-consuming and can be challenging. To help, here are a few studies you may want to check out that were published within the last two years around blended learning.

International Journal of Education Development: Modelling the Long-Run Learning Impact of the Covid-19 Learning Shock: Actions to (More Than) Mitigate Loss (opens in new tab) - In this study, the researcher states that remediation combined with a long-term reorientation of curriculum to align with children’s learning levels fully mitigates the long-term learning loss due to the shock and surpasses the learning in the counterfactual of no shock by more than a full year’s worth of learning. 

Building Effective Blended Learning Programs (opens in new tab) - The authors explore the differences between elearning and blended learning as well as explore new modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and learning models to improve blended learning.

A Blended Learning Strategy: Reimagining the Post-Covid-19 Architectural Education (opens in new tab) - The study encourages us to reimagine education using blended learning as a primary instructional model.

Combining the Best of Online and Face-to-Face Learning: Hybrid and Blended Learning Approach for COVID-19, Post Vaccine, & Post-Pandemic World (opens in new tab) - This paper offers an evidence-based approach on how instructors utilize both traditional and online instruction to create engaging learning experiences for students. 

Blended Learning is an Educational Innovation and Solution During the COVID-19 Pandemic (opens in new tab) - This study aims to find innovations and learning solutions during a pandemic, to support learning from home.

Dr. Ray's career includes designing technology within the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and directing technology research through Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Science Outreach programs. As a district administrator for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, she led the award-winning design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional technology programs, including instructional design for online and blended learning environments, redesigning physical learning environments, redefining school libraries, and establishing the first virtual high school to award the diploma. She leads K20Connect (opens in new tab) and other passion projects supporting K20 education around the world.