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Fast Forward: The Future of Blended Learning

Earlier in June, we covered the benefits of blended learning and how it can offer very real advantages for students, instructors, and institutions. But with blended learning continuing to take a more prominent role in education, let’s explore what its future holds and see what current trends will likely shape the next phases of this learning model:

1. More focus on knowledge application. As blended learning tools help educate students through self-paced study and independent exploration, expect to see a greater focus on knowledge application. This natural evolution will emphasize how blended learning delivers, supports, and assesses hands-on and experiential opportunities for students. As a result, solutions will offer new innovations in curriculum and even greater refinement of facilitator monitoring tools.

2. New models for instructor qualification and compensation. Blended learning tools are, at least in part, redefining how instructors teach. It follows that as blended learning matures as a successful education model, it will challenge how we qualify instructors, gauge their success, and reward their performance. As we move away from traditional teaching methods that are built primarily around the lecture-read-test-repeat model, a recalibration of desired instructor skills may be in order. Expect to see a greater call for more dynamic teaching styles; a blurring of the lines between teaching, advising, and coaching; a less clear distinction between work and personal time for facilitators; and a sharper focus on outcomes-based pay incentives.

3. Better tablets mean fewer PCs. As phenomenal leaps in mobile innovation continue, tablets will begin to replace PCs as students’ tool of choice for online course delivery. Tablets, often characterized as great for material delivery but terrible for creation, will continue to evolve and support a wider range of curriculum needs. In short, as mobile tools get smaller, lighter, and more nimble students will be less and less tethered to bulky devices to access content, participate with classmates, and complete coursework.

4. Strong growth at the high school level. The next frontier for applied blended learning is high school. Already we’re seeing a growing popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) among high school students and even some advanced middle school students. The trend is likely to grow as parents eye opportunities to prepare their children for higher education and compete for top spots at colleges and universities. For institutions, this will eventually translate into students who can hit the ground running — better able to readily engage with the independent nature of blended learning programs and able to take fuller advantage of the benefits they offer.

5. A boom in social learning. Blended learning tools and programs that leverage some sort of social or group learning capability will continue to expand. In-class instruction, computer-mediated learning, and facilitator assessments are all enhanced when students can easily exchange information, collaborate on projects, and assist one another in skills application. Look for tools and apps that promote learning between diverse groups or based upon specific commonalities such as skill level or interests.

Ultimately, student priorities will dictate how blended learning tools and programs are refined in the marketplace and leveraged for schools and businesses. How students interact with each other, share learning experiences, access information, and apply their knowledge in measurable ways will be the foundational areas for future growth opportunities. As tools become more mobile, as students expect more flexible learning options, and as institutions of all sizes respond to changing educational demands, the fast-forward of blending learning has already begun.

Enrollment Builders consults on a host of teaching tools and methods for institutions of all sizes. If you’d like to design a blended learning program or explore how strategic blended learning environments can benefit your school, we can help. To learn more about what we do, call us at 513-518-7824 or request information here.