In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were told by the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education to prepare a blended learning program of education. This so-called blended learning had to be rolled out quickly to enable staff and students to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning. But what is blended learning, and how does it affect the way students are taught?
What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning combines a mixture of teaching styles. It might incorporate face-to-face or in-person teaching in conjunction with online virtual classrooms, educational apps, or instructions to facilitate learning at home. The key is that a variety of learning styles are made available, which are used in conjunction with each other.
Blended learning was in place prior to COVID-19, but never has its implementation been more important. The type of learning chosen may depend on the current health guidelines in place in Arkansas. Having a range of learning methods available means that teachers and students can quickly adapt to changes in the state’s health guidelines regarding social distancing or isolation, without missing out on valuable days of education.
Whereas COVID-19 took some time to adapt to at first, many education professionals now have a better understanding of how best to implement blended learning. Those involved in providing education are now prepared to teach in a variety of ways on any given day depending on current guidelines.
At Integrity, Inc., we offer a range of educational and support services for both adults and children with developmental disabilities. Like many other educational providers, during the pandemic, we have adapted to enable us to continue to offer our services in different ways.
Types of Learning
When it comes to teaching both adults and children, classroom or in-person learning is the most widely recognized method. The learner is taught directly by the teacher, who can pick up on subtle cues regarding the understanding of the topic. Working face-to-face can also make it easier to gauge overall enjoyment and any other needs or concerns. This is particularly important for learners with additional educational needs.
Virtual classrooms have been in place for some time. Students are able to access both visual and audio aspects of the teaching remotely via a computer, tablet, or phone. This form of teaching allows for real-time interaction between the teacher and students and can also permit students to catch up on the session at a later time or date to suit them.
However, issues can arise including poor internet connection or software problems, which can disrupt learning. Some learners will find it difficult to engage in a virtual classroom. Hearing or sight impairment can also make the virtual classroom harder for some to access.
Learning Apps and Games
There has been a significant rise in the use of apps and online learning software during the pandemic. Globally, over 1 billion children have been out of the classroom, and so it is not surprising that many have adapted to learning remotely. Some children and adults will find that computer-based programs hold their attention better than other forms of teaching and learning.
eLearning incorporates a number of ways of teaching and learning. Webinars, online videos, quizzes, and comprehension activities can all be accessed online and completed at the student’s pace. This can be helpful for students who require more time to understand an activity, or who prefer to work early in the morning or late at night.
Blended Learning Arkansas
Educational providers in Arkansas have had to adapt to blended learning to observe social distancing guidelines. Fortunately, there have been benefits for both learners and teachers.
Benefits For Learners
Although many schools and other establishments may have only been used to delivering face to face teaching, there are plenty of known benefits to blended learning. The first and most obvious benefit is that learning can take place remotely. This has been crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person interaction has been severely limited.
Other benefits include convenience and flexibility for the learner. Learners can decide when they wish to learn and can do so at their own pace. Online learning supports social development, as interaction still takes place between teachers and learners. Research has shown that blended learning can offer a more comprehensive understanding of the course material.
Benefits for Teachers
Although teachers and carers would love to see their learners in person when this has not been possible blended learning has been the next best option. Video calls offer vital interaction that would not otherwise be possible.
Teachers may see better engagement when new apps or games are used to aid a child or adult’s learning. Teachers may also be able to offer a greater teaching capacity by working with several learners by video at once. Time spent commuting can also be reduced for learners and teachers.
Blended Learning Arkansas Special Education
At Integrity, Inc., our observation of state guidelines has meant we have had to change the way we work with children and adults with special educational needs. Face to face contact has been limited and remote communication has become more important than ever.
Blended learning for both adults and children with developmental disabilities is still vitally important. Our community-based care services for adults at Integrity, Inc. helps with the development of independence and social skills.
We understand the importance of arts and crafts in helping to improve cognition and memory, as well as promoting social interaction and building confidence. If in-person sessions are limited due to social distancing, blended learning would allow adults to continue to learn a skill remotely. For sessions held via video, there is also the opportunity for adults to interact with each other.
Find Out More
A true program of blended learning gives students control over time, place, and pace of learning. It also offers learners the chance to explore areas of interest in greater detail, without some of the constraints of in-person teaching.
To find out more about the services available for children and adults with developmental disabilities at Integrity Inc., call us (501) 406-0442 or contact us today.