Blended Learning: Increasing Student Achievement
In today’s society, technology is vastly improving on a daily basis. According to the United States Department of Education, by 2008, every single public school in the country had available computing technology and used them in some way as part of instruction (Gray, L., Thomas, N., & Lewis, L., 2010, p.4). In addition to technology use growing in education, the Child Trend Data Bank (CTDB) reported that “In 2013, almost six out of ten children, ages three to 17 (57 percent), used the Internet at home” (Child Trends Data Bank, 2015, p. 2). School districts are taking advantage of the growing technological trend, both in school and at home, and using this available technology to fill student’s achievement gaps in learning. To fill student achievement gaps in learning, many districts are moving to blended learning models, “Blended learning is any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path and/ or pace” (Horn, M. B., & Staker, H., 2015, p. 33). When successfully implemented, blended learning can increase student engagement and understanding of concepts by allowing students to take control of their own learning pace with personalized material. The following literature reviews will support and demonstrate the significance of using blended learning to fill student gaps in achievement and prepare them for the future.
The Positive Impact of Blended Learning on Student Achievement
Blended learning increases student achievement. According to the American Physiological Society, “Blending problem-based learning with Web technology positively impacts student outcomes” (Taradi 2005). In an article written by Andrew Howard (2014) he noted, “A recent report by the RAND Corporation, completed in conjunction with the US Department of Education, found that a group of middle and high school algebra students who learned via a blended learning model showcased significant gains in performance (8 percentile points, in fact).” According to the 2015 report, Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning, when comparing schools with and without blended learning, a major key finding states, “scores grew substantially relative to national averages” (Pane et al., p.8). According to a 2010 study by the US Department of Education, “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction” (p. xiv). Evidence to support increases in student achievement using blended learning are endless.
Technology Integration and Student Future
Technology is on the rise with no peak in sight. Higher Education is becoming more focused on incorporating online learning. According to a recent U.S. News study, “About 5.8 million students were enrolled in at least one distance learning course in fall 2014” (Friedman 2016). As a result of the rise of higher education integrating online learning, incorporating blended learning at early ages in education will prepare students for college. Due to the ease of technology ensuring accuracy and efficiency in business, the number of jobs using technology are increasing and basic computer skills are becoming a minimum job requirement. In a 2011 study by Microsoft IT Academy Program and the US Bureau of statistics claim that “More than 50% of today’s jobs require some degree of technology skills, and experts say that percentages will increase to 77% in the next decade.” As society changes, it is important to ensure that education is adapting to support the innovative needs and ideas for the future. Using blended learning will allow students to gain technological skills needed for the future including college and future careers. Extending anywhere from creating presentations and videos, to basic word processing skills, blended learning can incorporate a wide variety of computer skills that can be used for college and future careers.
With the trend of technology on the rise, people of all ages are becoming increasingly interested in technology. Research from the CTDB states, “The proportion of children with home access to computers increased steadily until 2012, from 15 percent in 1984 to 76 percent in 2003” (Child Trends Data Bank, 2015, p. 3). Opening an internet browser that puts the world at your fingertips is way more enticing to a young person than a stack of papers or books. The use of technology in blended learning will increase student’s engagement. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Technology infuses classrooms with digital learning tools [and] increases student engagement and motivation.” Blended learning can be engaging for students because of the plethora of resources which can be presented in a variety of way including, games, simulations, and videos. With technology so widely accessible, the amount of resources available in education are limitless. Education should not limit children to just what is in the classroom, students should be provided the opportunity for as many experiences as possible.
According to theorists, and people in general, no two people are the same; people learn, think, and act different. Howard Gardner of Harvard University coined the term “Multiple Intelligences” which theorizes the idea that there is more than one type of intelligence, most of which are not recognized by standard education methods (Gardner 1983). If no two people are exactly the same, why do schools require students to sit in a classroom, receiving a one speed, lecture style education? Blended learning allows students to work at their own pace with personal modifications, if needed.
Programs developed for blended learning such as STEMscopes, Compass Learning, and Think Through Math (TTM) foster personalization of curriculum by allowing students to specifically focus on topics they have not yet mastered. The Texas Education Agency indicated, “School year-long usage enables TTM’s adaptive technology, integrated with on-demand, on-line 1:1 tutoring from certified math teachers, to identify and remediate areas of weakness for students” (Smolensky 2015). A few examples of other technological programs that have been developed to allow personalization include, text to speech which allows information to be read aloud for students with reading disorders or hearing impairment and text can be made bigger or smaller for students with vision impairments. Personalization removes limitations from student learning and allows a more equal chance for student success.
Blended learning allows students to work at their own pace. When using the flipped classroom model, students can pause, go back, and re watch a lesson as many times as they need without causing the rest of the class to go back. When students do not master a topic, teachers can assign activities to ensure the student masters the topic before moving on to the next topic that is connect to or grows in the previous topic. Blended learning coach, Marcia Kish indicates that, ‘By customizing the pace of instruction and learning to meet individual student needs, blended learning enables students to spend their time more productively” (Kish 2015). When students are able to work at their own pace, they are able to master concepts at their own pace, allowing more students to grasp the ideas and concepts.
Challenges in Blended Learning
As with any other trending topic, blended learning comes with challenges. The 2016 Horizon Report stated that “Schools are not yet adept at moving teaching innovations into mainstream practice” (Horizon 28). In Jennifer Hoffman’s Manuel, Solutions to the Top 10 Challenges of Blended Learning, she describes three categories of challenges in blended learning; Technology Challenges, Organizational Challenges, and Instructional Design Challenges. Hoffman addresses and offers solutions for ten topics divided into the three categories (Hoffman 2014). Implementing any new idea in classroom comes with uncertainty; fortunately, with an array of research at one’s fingertips, technology has made it easier than ever to share how blended learning is being successfully implemented across the globe.
Technology is becoming mainstreamed into all parts of society; allowing students to incorporate blended learning has an array of advantages to increase student achievement and future success. The 2015 report, Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning, indicated, “Achievement analysis find that there were positive effects on student mathematics and reading performance and that the lowest-performing students made substantial gains relative to their peers” (Pane et al., p.8). With technology becoming the wave of the future and constant need for updates in education, educators are doing students a disservice by not allowing students the opportunity to use blended learning in the classroom.
Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., and Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved October 11, 2016 from: http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-cosn-horizon-report-2016-k-12-edition/
Child Trends Data Bank. (2015). Home computer access and internet use. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=home-computer-access
Friedman, J. (2016, February 9). Study: Enrollment in Online Learning Up, Except at For-Profits. Retrieved October 14, 2016, from http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2016-02-09/study-enrollmen t-in-online-learning-up-except-at-for-profits
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Gray, L., Thomas, N., Lewis, L., (2010). Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: Fall 2008 (NCES 2010-034). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Hofmann, J. (2011). Top 10 challenges of blended learning. Training, 48(2). Retrieved from: http://ww.cedma-europe.org/newsletter%20articles/Training%20Magazine/Top%2010%2 0Challenges%20of%20Blended%20Learning%20(Apr%2011).pdf
Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2015). Blended: Using disruptive innovation to improve schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Howard, A. (2014, April 11). 7 Promising Blended Learning Stats to Share with Your Administrators [Web log post]. Retrieved October 14, 2016, from http://blog.wowzers.com/7-promising-blended-learning-stats-to-share-with-your-administ rators
Kish, M. (2015, August 20). Empowering Students and Teachers with Blended Learning [Web log post]. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from http://www.p21.org/news-events/p21blog/1723-empowering-students-and-teachers-with- blended-learning
Blended Learning: Increasing Student Achievement 8
Pane, John F., Elizabeth D. Steiner, Matthew D. Baird and Laura S. Hamilton. Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1365.html.
Math, T. T. (n.d.). Texas Education Agency Report Finds Students Using Think Through Math Significantly Improved Their STAAR Performance. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/texas-education-agency-report-finds-students- using-think-through-math-significantly-improved-their-staar-performance-300037703.ht ml
Taradi, S. K. (2005). Blending problem-based learning with Web technology positively impacts student learning outcomes in acid-base physiology. AJP: Advances in Physiology Education, 29(1), 35-39. doi:10.1152/advan.00026.2004. Retrieved from: http://advan.physiology.org/content/ajpadvan/29/1/35.full.pdf
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development,
Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C., 2010. Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf