Recently, a school named the Ark Pioneer Academy in Barnet would have seen a plan to develop a Blended learning programme. A blended learning programme would mean that some of the curriculum of a school is taught by teachers whilst other parts are taught by computer software packages. The Education Funding Agency (EFA) and construction company Bowmer and Kirkland’s planning application hoped to build a nursery, primary school, secondary school, sixth form and sports facility, which they planned to open in September 2018. Barnet Council officers recommended that the application should be approved but despite this, its planning committee threw it out.
The school planned to take the “blended learning” model from America where the learning structure was prevalent and Ark has said it hoped the method would make better use of teacher time, further personalise learning and “increase the reach of great teachers”.
So what is the Blended Learning model? And how does it help America’s next generation to find the best pathways to careers? For instance some people might want jobs in Tax Recruitment whilst others may want to find an In-House Solicitor Job. The possibilities of careers are endless in terms of jobs that you can train for, you could even find a Newly Qualified Solicitor Job in London and the blended learning model may or may not give you a head start in that.
What is blended learning?
Blended learning is when education uses both classroom and physical teaching and combines it with media and technology based learning. This means that there is flexibility in when the students can be taught. The students will have some lessons which are based on personal, teacher student contact and some that is delivered in software packages. This flexibility means that it is also useful in professional development groups, not only for children but for adults as well. It is an easy, independent way of learning that means that the student can work at their own pace so long as they reach the deadline. This type of learning would benefit independent thinkers and group sessions alike. Blended learning therefore holds a range of similarities to personalised learning, meaning that the education is tailored to the needs of the individual and gives them more control over their own education. In particular this would benefit those who do not like the routine and structure of the traditional education system.
Technology based learning has in fact existed since the 1960’s. Dating back to half a century ago, companies would use technology based training for mini computers and mainframes. Since then the idea of the scale at which blended learning can work has become the prevalent argument for its inclusion in curriculums as the 70s saw video conference calling and the use of technology being a hands on and efficient way of teaching people about just that, technology. Although this was efficient, due to the complex and young nature of the computer systems, was very expensive to maintain for sustained periods of time. CD ROMS then emerged in the 90’s and become the primary source for packaging computer based information. This of course included learning tools. Problems arose again however, as CD ROM based learning could not monitor large levels of results and test scores. This led to the development of learning management systems that had the ability to archive and rank results. Nowadays, blended learning is delivered online for ease of access.
This means that institutions such as the Khan Academy have flourished in the twenty first century. The Khan Academy allows students to learn at their own pace and have an accessible space to study via short YouTube lectures and learning tools for teachers.
Blended learning is thought to be more effective than solely face to face or solely online learning. This is because it instils a balanced mixture of personal human contact in the learning, something that can only be administered from one human to another and independent study and research, allowing students to escape the pressure of an institution and take the reins of their own thinking and learning techniques. What this amounts to is a simultaneous “collaborative and independent learning experience”. Students who have special talents can use blended learning outside of the curriculum to exceed their grade boundaries and therefore reach their true potential, not limited by the restrictions of the classroom and the learning pace of others.
Blended learning as community
Perhaps one of the most important positives to Blended Learning is that it creates an online community which can help and support each other. The Internet is used to connect people from all parts of the world with websites like Facebook and Skype being of great importance in the strive for global connectivity and Blended Learning creates the same, envisaging a future where like-minded people can learn together and give each other tips, increasing our understanding of our world as whole.