When the UK went into national lockdown in March, Twinkl Educational Publishing made homeschooling easier for millions of parents by making their materials available for free while the schools remained closed. The gesture that offered a lifeline for many parents who would be at a loss otherwise, in addition to their dedicated SEN Resources section, established Twinkl as one of our favourite educational resources. We’ve all moved from 100% reliance on schools and teachers to what is now called “blended learning”.
With the second wave of Covid-19 setting in and the looming prospect of more school closures over the next few months, we’ve asked Liv Corp, a Content Executive at Twinkl, to tell us more about the recent rise of blended learning, how it has been transforming our education and how it can benefit in particular children with special educational needs.
How Blended Learning can help transform Learning Environment
The Coronavirus pandemic changed the way we educate our children, learning was forced online and children adapted to their classrooms being in the home. Now when returning to the classroom, teachers are having to look for alternative ways of continuing education in schools safely for students.
One way to facilitate this is by implementing a Blended Learning model, which has been in place at schools in Scotland to enable all students to have some time in the classroom, but also supporting their learning at home too.
What is Blended Learning?
Blending Learning can be defined as a style of teaching that allows students to learn using a mixture of materials in the classroom and educational technology including educational resources.
Research from Renaissance has shown that there have been some benefits to lockdown and moving learning online for its impact on the value of technology in the classroom. Following the school closures, 65% of teachers now feel more confident using EdTech in the classroom and adopting technology in the classroom has helped to create an engaging learning environment for a generation of students who are so accustomed to using technology outside school.
Benefits of Blended Learning
A blended learning model can have many benefits for all students, these include providing instant online feedback for students and, with the material being online, it is easier for teachers to track individual progress and therefore keep track of areas which need further improvement, creating a more individual approach to learning.
Tracking individual students progress also means that teachers can see what students are engaging and performing best with, so they can then tailor the type of teaching students receive in order to insure the best chance of progression and understanding.
Blended learning also has a range of benefits for SEN students. Students who suffer from severe anxiety and mental health problems who may struggle with the stricter routine of traditional schooling may benefit from being able to attend some of their lessons from home.
Blended learning is also a mastery approach to learning which is more individualised, allowing students to work at their own pace and there is no pressure to move on from a subject until students feel like they have properly understood the content.
Some students, who have additional needs, may struggle to concentrate for the full hour of a traditional classroom lesson. One of the advantages of blended learning is that the content of the lesson can be more engaging through the use of technology. It is fair to say that most pupils will be used to using technology in their home life, so they should be comfortable accessing learning materials online.
Another potential benefit of using a blended learning model with students who may need additional support in the classroom is that learning takes place in smaller groups. As students are in more control of their learning using technology, this should then free up the teacher to give targeted instruction and feedback in smaller groups.
Learning taking place in smaller groups and a lot of the work being focused online should also help improve communication between students and teachers. By working in a virtual learning environment, the nervousness around speaking up in lessons should be diminished for students, as they can instead send their teacher a private message for further explanation.
A Blended Learning model in schools helps to celebrate the individuality of students and how they would prefer to learn. When educating students with SEN, there can be a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to education and this can be damaging and reductive. Using a learning model which understands the differences in how people learn best, and enables learning to take place in smaller groups means that students can take the most benefit from the time spent with their teachers and classmates.
If you’d like to learn more about Blended Learning, Twinkl is running a Q&A session on one of our Facebook pages on the 17th of November discussing the rise in Blended Learning and taking questions in the group.