Blended learning is a strategy that developed in the digital era to quite simply ‘blend’ both traditional and digital teaching methods. Technology is used to combine teaching in and out of the class, while students continue to benefit from interpersonal exchanges with a real teacher.
The value of using tech in teaching was slowly beginning to get recognition before the COVID-19 pandemic, but after the teaching industry had to perform a drastic U-turn (in some cases, overnight) to transfer all teaching online, the UK EdTech industry grew by a staggering 71.5%. Despite returning to face-to-face, in-school teaching, many schools now continue to make the most of their EdTech software. Younger generations are now growing up into a technologically-enhanced world, with digital communication (e.g. email, text and social media) preferred by approximately 75% of internet users to in-person communication. These findings can infer that certain aspects of studying online may suit the majority of today’s young learners.
At Dragons Teaching, we started using blended learning to deliver our language teaching provision in 2018 with the launch of DragonsConnect – our proprietary built Mandarin online classroom. Now available in all of our taught languages, Connect combines live, online teaching and interactive, reward-based games and activities to maintain pupil engagement, sustain focus and overall, encourage a genuine love of learning languages. In our experience as a growing EdTech company, we see some of the following as significant benefits of blended learning.
No geographical limits
Having lessons taught online means that they can take place anywhere, at any time – suiting both the student and the teacher. As a global language company, our online provision enables us to recruit high-quality teachers worldwide and they can remain in their native country but teach from afar. This significantly reduces the geographical limits encountered in recruiting.
Developing IT skills
Research suggests that 75% of jobs will require advanced IT skills by 2030 – indicating that the vast majority of children currently aged 12 or under will need enhanced IT skills before leaving education. Adopting a blended learning strategy from an early age can help students learn and practise their ever-important IT skills, which can be further developed throughout their secondary years. At Dragons Teaching, the bulk of our students are in Years 6 or 7 (aged 10-12).
Easing pressure on schools
Recruiting and keeping good teachers is difficult, with many schools overstretched and departments struggling to keep on top of crammed timetables. Blended learning can be a significant benefit for teachers and help to alleviate time pressures. Teachers within organisations can employ online exercises as a task for their students to consolidate their learning, freeing up time for the teacher to complete admin or marking. Meanwhile, outsourcing teaching to companies such as Dragons Teaching means that entire classes can study a curriculum without the need for an in-school teacher – just a member of staff to supervise the class.