Broadband, Blended, and Online Learning
“Blended Learning” is a phrase whose importance is quickly growing in the world of education. To help support students’ learning, blended learning mixes computer-aided projects to the classroom with live teaching to achieve superior educational interactivity. It’s a process that is very individualized. Students are able to work at their own pace using individual tablets and computers to make progress in the areas that are the most challenging to them. When students come across parts they do not grasp, teachers are able to provide the most effective individual attention, helping students to grow.
A recent article in Smithsonian Magazine offered an in-depth look at blended learning in a Southwest Washington, D.C. elementary school. At Stanton Elementary the children use iPads and laptops for 45 minutes a day to work on an online math program. The students access ST Math, an online math program that caters to each student’s skill level. When one class is done, the computers are packed up and rolled into the next classroom. This type of learning keeps students more engaged and allows teachers the time to give one-on-one attention to the children who need it most, without holding the most advanced students back.
Blended learning is gaining acceptance because there are no hard-and-fast rules on how to blend hands-on and computer-aided learning. A recent article in the Washington Post highlighted the story of Sophia Pink’s Junior year of High School. Her year was newsworthy because before even turning 18 she decided she needed a sabbatical. She took a year off from traditional school, attending online math, writing and science classes and engaging in projects she enjoyed. The time allowed her to make a film and begin to develop an app.
But schools are not the only ones benefiting from new education technology. Today, 30% of all employers use e-learning for training. In five years, that figure will grow closer to 50%. At the executive level, on-line courses being offered by major universities make it possible for major corporations to have their upwardly mobile executives take graduate-level courses while at their desks or from home.
As broadband becomes more common in education, the number of people who will be able to move up that educational scale – at different points in their personal and professional lives – will continue to improve, changing for the better the future for millions of Americans