5 fast paths to go from classroom teaching to blended learning

Written by on 28/07/2014 in Blog

In the last months we have visited a good bunch of language schools in different countries. One of the common questions, maybe, the most has been:

“Ok, I like the idea. How can I start transforming my classroom teaching in some kind of blended learning?”

Our answer has been always.

“It depends. Which is your main business issue today?”

And we can list the most common issues we have heard. We have put them in order, from easiest to most difficult. But it is our order, you can have a different opinion.

“We have a lot of students preparing for official certification tests. Our teachers spend a lot of time marking tests and, even so, we feel we should provide the students more practice and feedback to ensure a higher success ratio.”.

Then, spend your time automating tests. An LMS can help you to create a lot of tests with a question bank that you can use and reuse multiple times. Your teachers can save a lot of time avoiding multiple choice question marking and do something more interesting, like oral practice with the students. And your students will love to practice freely and get immediate feedback. Of course, nothing is free: you have to invest some time in creating the quizzes.

“Our students are professionals often busy or travelling, so they usually miss some lessons. When they come back they are lost and, at the end, they drop. We have not so many groups to provide convenient make up lessons.”

Then, give the opportunity of a do-it-yourself make up lesson. You can shoot a video summaries with the teacher (not the whole lesson, please!) or get some video clips from You Tube. You can structure them in a lesson with several pages. Introduce some control questions to ensure understanding. Add a bit of material to read or practice and… voilà!, you have a make up lesson. Round it offering the student a Virtual Classroom short session at their best convenience. You have to create your content, of course, and it needs some planning and development.

“The students come to the lessons pretty tired and it is difficult to make them learn effectively. The classroom time is not enough and, although we provide them some additional materials, we cannot follow up or give them some support their work between lessons. They don’t feel that they progress, so at the end they withdraw the lessons.”

We are sure you have lots of materials to give your students. And a lot of exercises. Put them ordered in an LMS. Give access to your students and you will get immediate tracking of their work and progress. You can then encourage them to go on and learn more and of course give them support and feedback to progress. In this case the main job is the teacher daily support. It is not easy, but it is worth it.

“Our students are very active and learn the grammar and vocabulary easily, but they don’t really speak. We don’t have enough time in the classroom for the oral practice. When they find the opportunity of practice their speech, they feel that they are really poor.”

Your way is then “Flip the classroom”. Shoot the lectures in video (audios + slides are also nice), give the students the grammar and the vocabulary to study at home and use the classroom to practice and practice and practice. Your students will be much happier. And your teachers will have a lot of fun. A lot of content development? Maybe not so much, and once done, you can reuse it many times.

“Our students are advanced and have been working together for a long time. They could learn faster if they could meet and work together with a little teacher support.”

Yes, you have the opportunity to encourage collaborative learning. Let them discuss in forums, build knowledge together in wikis and assess the others with peer-assessment workshops. You will build a community and strength the bonds between students and teacher. So you will probably get very loyal students and probably advocates.

That’s all! Ok, maybe these are only ideas to start. In next posts we will go deeper in each type. Your comments and suggestions are welcome!

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