A blended learning environment combines the best parts of in-person and online learning, creating opportunities for personalization and flexibility in the classroom. It gives students the autonomy to choose what content they’re interested in learning about and to approach their learning at their own pace.
One of the many benefits of a blended learning environment is that it allows students to explore subjects they find interesting, empowering them in their learning through personalized choice. All students learn science, but not everyone is excited by an erupting baking soda-and-vinegar volcano. Allowing students to learn a subject by choice improves student engagement by letting them pursue their own interests.
In this blog—the second of the personalized learning series—we look at how content can be individualized by using technology in the classroom.
3 Ways to Personalize Choice in Blended Learning Environments
To give students choice in the classroom, you can offer a wide range of topics under a broader subject umbrella. Below, we’ll take a look at three ways you can use technology to enhance in-person learning and create a blended learning environment that enables personalized choice.
1. Introduce Different Learning Pathways
The right learning management system (LMS) can help you create learning pathways that help students learn by choice. You can curate learning activities that lead students toward the standard, but the paths that students take to get there can differ. This creates space for students to explore their own interests, which in turn increases their engagement in the subject matter.
To keep students on track as they work toward an outcome, you can:
- use release conditions to ensure students are completing specific tasks before they move on
- make a road map easily available so students can see expectations ahead of time
- supplement classwork with additional materials for students to access if they’re interested
Giving learners the freedom to learn in the direction they want can help them discover and meet their strengths, interests and passions along the way. It can also help them grow their independence as well as their problem-solving and communication skills.
2. Create Flexible Learning Environments
To create a flexible learning environment that encourages personalized choice, you can start with the physical learning environment. Adaptable modular furniture, varied learning spaces like couches and group desks and different technology options can help you cater to your students’ needs.
You also need to provide students with the right digital tools. Because blended learning makes use of technology, you can encourage students to do classwork when and where they’re most comfortable while still giving them in-class time for questions and groupwork. In both the physical and the virtual space, flexibility of choice is key.
With freedom to learn about subjects that excite them, it’s important for students to have some guidelines in place so that they can all reach the same outcomes. You can do this by:
- providing students with opportunities to collaborate
- making rubrics clear and broadly applicable so that students can choose how to approach their assignments
- using checkpoints along the way rather than one due date to help students see whether they’re moving at the right pace
Empowering students to approach their education in a way that is interesting and engaging to them is a consistent mark of a successful blended learning environment.
3. Integrate a Variety of Assessments
Giving your students different types of assessments lets them explore multiple ways of learning while still having the opportunity to show their knowledge. In history class, one student may want to profile a former president, while another may approach the assignment through a music-history lens. With varied assignments, students can get creative and demonstrate their understanding in unique ways that interest them.
Here are some different assessment types you can explore:
- standards-based assessments allow you to easily analyze student knowledge based on overall comprehension levels without giving them strict parameters
- video-based assessments let students apply their knowledge while combining elements of scripting, lighting and technology in a real-world medium
- project-based assessments enable students to include links, attachments and multimedia into their responses, encouraging them to explore different sources and ways of showing their learning
Fostering classrooms in which students can explore their own interests at their own pace while still achieving necessary outcomes is the key to a healthy, engaging and dynamic learning environment. Students who find intrinsic value in their classwork are more likely to retain and apply that information in the future. Using the right technological tools, you can create this environment easily and effectively.