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Blended Learning: Pedagogical and Practical Considerations in Language Education

· language education,E-Learning,language schools,blended learning,online learning

Blended learning is on everyone’s lips. Although the concept behind it could be traced back to the ’60, and its formal terminology to the late ‘90s, it has been in recent years that this approach has gained massive attention from the educational community.

It could be defined as the “approach that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods.1” – In short, teachers chose more than one delivery mode to pass knowledge to the students. The goal is to maximize the studying experience and optimize the learning outcome2.

Traditionally, a Blended Learning classroom included two components: (1) Synchronous Face-to-Face, which requires the physical presence of students and teacher within the same environment, and (2) Asynchronous Activities, that happen online via platforms like Moodle, Google Classroom, etc.

Nowadays, during and after the Covid-19 outbreak, the components of Blended Learning have changed, and the concept of Blended Learning itself has gained much flexibility. In fact, we identify:

  • Blended 1: Synchronous Face-to-Face component, which might require social distancing, thus implying the difficulty to work in pair or group, combined with Asynchronous Modality;
  • Blended 2: Synchronous Online component, combined with Asynchronous modality.

Schools might decide to adopt Blended 1 or 2, based on the students’ needs and preference; however, they need to be ready to switch from one modality to the other with ease, until this pandemic will totally be behind us.

Which are the pedagogical implications of blending the synchronous and asynchronous together?

Considering the common element of the two blends, the asynchronous mode, we cannot help but state that asynchronous training doesn’t mean assign a few exercises for homework, nor a bank of material accessible to students. It’s rather a series of tasks that learners need to complete at an exact time of the learning path, as it is complementary to the synchronous training.

Even if it happens when teacher and students are not physically together, the asynchronous mode implies teaching, cognitive and social presence3(be careful, presence is not embodiment!). It requires teacher’s support and peer’s interaction, which is fostered by communications channels and checklists that help students to understand what they have to do and for which purpose*. 

As a consequence, instructional design is key – activities assigned to students to be completed asynchronously need to be designed for this specific modality. Break the long videos down in chunks to reduce the cognitive load or make some quizzes in between a pdf; to add an element of interactivity to all your materials is what you need to make asynchronous training effective.

Another pedagogical consideration verts on language skills. Which skills will you be teaching asynchronously? Teachers shall provide step by step guidance and pre-reading/ listening tasks or ask students to take a self-correct quiz to activate their knowledge. For this purpose, forums also work extremely well asynchronously, since they provide a collaborative environment where students can interact and engage in a discussion that follows a self-studying activity.

What about the pedagogical considerations of synchronous training, might it be face to face or online? 

How does Edugo.AI Platform support blended learning?

Whether you opt for Blended 1 or Blended 2, Edugo.AI Platform got your back. As a one-stop platform, it provides the digital environment language schools need to perform live lessons, as well as structure the asynchronous training.

Through our AI-powered LMS, teachers can create and/or upload any kind of language material on the platform. The system processes it and adds that element of interaction you need to engage with students asynchronously. Fill in the blank, Choose the right translation, Listen to the audio and repeat, Organize the words in the right order are just some of the hundreds of exercises that the Edugo.AI system creates in just a few minutes. 

When the lesson is complete, students might practice at their own peace and receive instant feedback from the platform. The teacher not only has access to each single student’s results, but can also mark the homework, assign grades and give constructive comments, thus guiding the students in his/her learning path – without letting him feel left alone. 

All of this happens within the “Edugo.AI Classroom”, a special environment within the same platform where students and teachers join and interact live, as well as start debates and discussion before and after each live session.

The synchronous lessons - both group classes o one-to-one – could happen face-to-face (Blended 1) or via our AI-powered video call system (Blended 2), which allows for live interactive exercises and personalizes each student’s learning experience, by automatically generating a gamified and tailored lesson review. 

Are you ready to maximize the learning outcome of your students and make the best out of the Blended Learning approach? 

Book a demo with us to discover more!

References

1 Friesen, Norm (2012). "Report:Defining Blended Learning"

2 Singh, H and Reed, C. (2001). A White Paper: Achieving Success with Blended Learning. Retrieved from https://maken.wikiwijs.nl/userfiles/f7d0e4f0bd466199841ede3eea221261.pdf

3 Garrison, D. R., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Fung, T. S. (2010). Exploring causal relationships among teaching, cognitive and social presence: Student perceptions of the community of inquiry framework. The Internet and Higher Education, 13, pp. 31–36. 

Picture and Videos: Webinar "Blend it Up in the face-to-face and online language classroom" with Sophia Mavridi, Giuseppe Tomasello. June 10th, 2021. 

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