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Blended Learning: Definition and Benefits

With technology, learning has changed and evolved. Blended learning is not widely known as a term, but it is practiced almost everywhere. Especially at universities blended learning can be observed and students benefit from the various advantages of this learning concept. For example, there have long been various e-learning platforms and models at universities and colleges. The crucial point here: Other forms of learning are not replaced or displaced, but complemented and meaningfully combined. Here you will learn what blended learning means, how it works and what advantages it has over other non-mixed forms of learning …

Definition: What is blended learning

The term blended learning can be translated as “mixed” or “combined” learning and thus immediately describes the core aspect of the learning concept. By this is meant that there is no either or between online course and attendance event. Rather, both forms – and in addition often other methods and media – are used in combination.

The transfer of knowledge also takes place during blended learning in seminars and lectures, but is also supported and supplemented by specially designed online platforms, digital exercises or e-learning seminars.

Although the first computer-based learning and training applications date back to the 1980s, blended learning, as it is today’s everyday life and standard at every university, only really came into practice later. It took the development and deepening of various e-learning platforms and methods until blended learning became established.

How does blended learning work in practice?

In most of the seminars and lectures, the handsets that used to be found in the library or copy shop are a thing of the past. Most professors and lecturers put the literature to their events already at the beginning of the semester on the net. Following the session, the content, such as the PowerPoint presentation, slides, tasks and examples will also be posted on the Internet.

In introductory courses or method seminars, universities also like to work with so-called Web Based Trainings (WBT). In these, the contents of the events are summarized and supplemented by tasks on the topic.

They offer students the opportunity to check their knowledge directly. In practice, after a lecture students in the e-learning area can do WBTs and thus combine recording of knowledge with practical implementation.

Many learning platforms also have the option of submitting assignments to the lecturer. The services are then evaluated and the grading appears in the system. This is useful, for example, in excerpts and thesis papers, which, for example, are to be provided as an attestation of achievement as an accompaniment to an event.

Some lecturers also use the possibilities of the learning platform to generate content for seminars. For example, forums are a good way to have students discuss issues in advance of a session. This discussion can be seen by the teacher and sees what the students are particularly busy and where there are still ambiguities.

Frequently, the processing of such WBTs is also seen as a prerequisite for the following exercises and lectures. So students have to complete the online tasks one after another, thereby freeing up the next exercises and can try on other contents.

The benefits of blended learning

Closing completely to the opportunities offered by learning platforms leaves a lot of potential untapped. How blended learning enriches teaching at universities:

The work of the teacher is made easier

Material and tasks can be set online. The achievements of the students are collected there and can be evaluated there. That saves a lot of work.

The contact between lecturer and student is simplified

Especially at mass universities, it is difficult to establish personal contact with the students. The platforms facilitate communication. If an event failed a few years ago, students usually did not find it out until they were standing in front of the locked door of the seminar room. Then stuck a note with the info. Today, such news can be announced online and spread faster among the students. Also questions to the lecturers are easier to ask. Often it can also be seen whether the own question has not already been asked by a fellow student and an answer is available.

Learning is not time and place bound

Everything is becoming more decentralized today – not just working in teams spread across many locations, but learning as well. With blended learning, students can access online learning content anytime, anywhere, repeating content, and doing exercises from home or on the go.

The preparation for exams is facilitated

From a student’s point of view, this is one of the biggest advantages. Accompanying online material for the events allows content to be refreshed even better in the run-up to an exam. The lecture slides can be reviewed, old exams can be solved and sample solutions can be viewed. In many events shortly before the exam, there is also the opportunity to ask questions in the forum, which are then answered by the lecturer or his tutors.

The exchange between the students is encouraged

Especially in large lectures, in which the participants hardly know each other, it is difficult to get in touch with his fellow students. The learning platform makes it possible to ask questions to fellow students in the forum, to exchange notes and to discuss facts. The ability for virtual group work is thereby expanded.

The self-responsible work is promoted

Through the online offer, students have become more flexible in their time management. Missed sessions can be reworked at any time. However, this also means that a student has to discipline himself to take advantage of this offer. The ability to motivate oneself and to work independently is trained with it.

The digital knowledge of students will be expanded

Students naturally learn to use wikis, podcasts, videos, slideshares and other tools. How much a student learns in this relationship depends, on the one hand, on the expertise of the teacher in this area, but also on one’s own commitment to discovering the possibilities and using them for oneself.

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