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Blended Learning: Combining the Best of Different Learning Modes

Reading time 8 minutes
Blended Learning: Combining the Best of Different Learning Modes

In this day and age, digitalization stops at nothing. It has found its way into almost every area of our lives, and that's a great thing! It makes our lives immensely easier in many ways. Just one click and our shopping is delivered to our door. Just a quick tap and all our questions are answered. But we can't or don't always want to do without human contact. There are things that simply work better face to face. So each side has its advantages, which can be super combined with each other. The result is hybrid forms such as blended learning. You can read more about this here.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning brings together different forms of learning. Traditional face-to-face learning in the form of workshops, seminars, etc. meets digital phases of self-learning that are controlled online. These forms of learning are combined in such a way that a large whole emerges that combines all the advantages and compensates for the disadvantages of each other. This is evident, for example, in the case of personal support. With purely digital forms of learning, this often comes up a bit short.

This is exactly where face-to-face learning steps in and compensates for this disadvantage. Of course you can also learn online ask questionsif you don't understand something and write emails or use a chat. But in the right attendance phases, you can much more easily engage in conversation with the whole group, clear up ambiguities and stimulate exciting discussions.

But beware: blended learning does not necessarily combine online phases with phases of meeting at the same time in the same place. Presence in this context can also mean that the group meets virtually, for example in live webinars or group conferences via video chat. Basically, presence only means attendance, which is why theoretically all learning events in which everyone participates synchronously can be part of this phase in blended learning.

blended learning

What is the difference between blended learning and e-learning?

Blended learning and e-learning are the same thing, you think? No, not quite. E-learning is simply learning with the help of electronic media of various kinds. This can be the Internet itself, but also learning forums and chats or special online portals. Not to forget, of course, online seminars and instructional videos are also possible.

In e-learning, learners therefore act largely on their own. This has many advantages, such as full flexibility in terms of time and place. No matter what time it is or where you are, you decide when and where you want to learn. You also determine your own learning speed. That's why e-learning is especially popular in adult education.

However, you often have to make concessions when it comes to personal support. It is available, but of course not comparable with the direct face-to-face contact. Because you are completely free to decide when and where you learn, you may also be tempted to put off tasks.

In summary, e-learning is part of blended learning. This makes it difficult to distinguish between the two forms, because they merge seamlessly.

These are the advantages of blended learning

Probably the biggest advantage of blended learning is obvious: It combines the best of different forms of learning. We will now introduce you to all the pros that derive from this.

Suitable for every learning type

Everyone learns best differently. Are you the visual type, using illustrations and graphics to memorize things most confidently? Or does it help you to simply listen and concentrate on the voice and the way someone says something? Or maybe you learn best by reading a text at your leisure, going over it again and again, and jumping back to a specific point at any time.

No matter what type of learner you are, blended learning allows you to focus on the methods that benefit you the most. So you achieve maximum success. In the self-learning phases, you can also choose how you deal with theory and practice.

Do you want to go through all the facts first and push the exercises to the very end? Or will you understand the facts better if you go straight to the exercises before moving on to the next topic? It doesn't matter, here you decide!

You decide what is good for you

We've just touched on it: You decide how you learn. Blended learning offers you a high degree of self-determination. This allows you to create the learning conditions that are optimal for you. If you are a real night owl, you may find it difficult to concentrate on learning content in the morning. In blended learning, this is not a problem at all, because you decide when you learn.

If you succeed best late in the evening or even at night, because then you finally have your peace, then simply postpone your learning units. You can even choose your ideal learning location if the attendance phases also take place online. Whether you need a meticulously tidy desk, prefer to study outdoors in the fresh air, or want to lounge comfortably on the couch - the choice is yours. Even if you're on the road and want to make good use of a long train ride, for example, you can unpack your learning materials with complete flexibility.

All learners on the same level

Surely you know it from your school days: There are always a few students who understand everything immediately and are ahead of the others. And then there are those who are constantly lagging behind because they need a little more time to internalize all the information. If the subject matter continues to be learned despite this, the Motivation quickly gone. That doesn't happen with blended learning.

In the independent phases, you can take the time you need to internalize all the content and learn at your own pace. If, on the other hand, it's all too easy for you, then you can simply skim over certain things and invest the time gained more sensibly. In the classroom phases, everyone is on the same level, no one is over- or under-challenged, and the entire group remains motivated.

About the disadvantages of blended learning

The feedback on blended learning is generally very positive. But that doesn't mean there are no disadvantages at all. So let's take a closer look at these, too, so that you know in advance what you should pay particular attention to.

Particularly high demands on teachers

It is not uncommon to hear criticism that a great deal is expected of teachers who teach blended learning. This is due to the fact alone that they provide materials in a wide variety of forms in order to optimally design classroom and self-learning phases.

Especially the preparation and creation of online elements is very time-consuming. Of course, everything has to be perfect so that the group can learn optimally when there is no presence phase. This poses a challenge for the teachers.

High level of self-management

What is an advantage for some can be a disadvantage for others. Of course, it's great to be able to schedule your independent learning phases as you like and fit them perfectly into your everyday life. But with this freedom also comes a lot of responsibility.

It's up to you to get up and go through your materials and study hard. No one is going to tell you what to do and when to do it. Are you one of those people who Like to put off tasks and do everything at the last minuteyou may have problems. It is entirely your responsibility to ensure that you are on the same level as the rest of the group during the attendance phases.

Technical hurdles

Blended learning thrives on technology. Of course, for you to be able to use all the digital learning materials, it has to work smoothly. The good thing is that you only need basic digital skills and don't need to be a professional to make blended learning work for you. So what is much more important is to use a platform with good support. If there is a technical problem that is not yours, ideally you will be helped very quickly so that you can continue to be diligent.

blended learning definition

Limited control options

When learning, it's incredibly important to get feedback before you've memorized something completely wrong. If you are currently in a self-learning phase in blended learning, this is difficult. In most cases, of course, there are solution sheets for the tasks that you complete on your own. But that doesn't necessarily prevent comprehension problems.

It can happen that you are absolutely convinced that you have understood something correctly, but in the end you have overlooked or overheard something that changes everything. But such situations are usually only resolved in open conversation, which is not always possible with blended learning. Especially if you want to learn a new language, you might run into difficulties.

In this case, you will usually be provided with audios with which you can check whether you have pronounced something correctly or not. Nevertheless, a teacher or native speaker will hear mistakes more clearly than you. You may not notice small discrepancies yourself, but no one can point them out to you during periods of self-learning.

This is how a blended learning course is structured

Ideally, a blended learning course is oriented towards the Needs of the participants. At best, it starts with a kick-off event where everyone gets to know each other. The focus here is not necessarily on content, but rather on group formation. Organizational issues are also clarified so that the course can run smoothly later on and no problems arise during the independent phases. Of course, there is also an introduction to the use of the online platform.

Then you can really get started. The exact division into classroom and self-study phases is completely individual and often also depends on the topic to which the course is dedicated. The media used is also not specified anywhere. This can be scripts, presentations, videos, audios and more. The important thing is that there is always a possibility of exchange within the group, e.g. in the form of a virtual classroom or a group chat.

It is not uncommon for the end to be a final event, where all teachers and learners come together once again, discuss their new knowledge and reflect on the course and how it went.

Use blended learning in the company

Blended learning is particularly suitable for professional life, because in the stressful everyday life it is not so easy to accommodate visiting a teaching institution at fixed times. Thanks to blended learning, you can at least complete the self-learning phases when it fits best into your schedule. If the classroom phases are not tied to a specific location, you don't have to take extra vacation time and travel around.

Perhaps you can adapt your working hours to your blended learning appointments, at least for these days, and, for example, learn in the morning and only work from the afternoon onwards. Of course, this also benefits the company, because training doesn't have to turn into a business trip. This saves travel time and money.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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