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RESPONSE ON SUCCESS FACTORS OF BLENDED LEARNING

11/20/2011

The article on Success factors for blended learning offer some inspirative ideas about the practice of blended learning in education settings. This paper will respond to several ideas concerning the definition of success in blended learning, the factors, and the complexity of administering blended learning, the important factors for successful blended learning practice. The last part will be small reflection on my own practice.

What is successful blended learning?

The success of blended learning lies in its ability to promote high quality learning outcomes and positive learning experiences among the students. The use of blended learning should address the needs of the students to explore and to construct knowledge in their learning activities. Blended learning is considered successful if it also addresses the need of the teachers. Blended learning should generate satisfaction within the teachers’ job, and it gives reasonable workload to the teacher so that they still have time to learn. Therefore the focus is on the students and the teachers; as far as the blended learning can facilitate the students to achieve the learning goals effectively, and it gives high satisfaction on the part of the teachers, the blended learning is successful.

However to achieve this objectives, the application of blended learning in teaching and learning face some challenges. First, the implementation of blended learning in education settings should take into account the diversity of the student population. The diversity in term of their experiences, the accessibility of the technology used in blended learning, the cultural diversity of the students with their technology rich experiences. These should be considered well in the design of blended learning instruction. The blended learning designer should study carefully the diversity existing in the student’s population so that the design will be appropriate and able to answer their learning needs. The design of blended learning should also anticipate the development of the technology and should be made easy for teachers to adapt the development of the new technology. 

What are the success factors for blended learning?

The implementation of blended learning should be supported by the institution, the teachers, the students and the pedagogy underlying the practice. First, the decision to implement blended learning at schools should be based on the careful study of the “need of the local school community”, the learners’ need and the readiness of the teacher. Ignoring these factors, the implementation of the blended learning will not produce effective teaching and learning. Another aspect is that in the institution level the implementation of blended learning should be communicated well with teachers, students and parents as well to get support and feedback from them. Continues feedback to and from the students is important also. Therefore preparation on the part of the institution including need assessment, teacher preparation on the pedagogy of blended learning and its practical matters is fundamental before we implement the blended learning. Step by step implementation of blended learning is advisable.

Second the teachers, as facilitator in the blended learning are determinant to the success of the blended learning implementation. As I said before, teachers should be prepared well about the blended learning practices. The preparation includes the pedagogy underlying the implementation of blended learning, the learning theories and the related matters. Continues support in term of pedagogical, technical support and enough time to develop themselves should be given to the teachers. 

Next factor is the student. Enough information and encouragement should be given to the students so that they have “learning maturity” (and are ready with the demand of the blended learning. It is important especially when they come to online class because many students expect less activities and assignment in the online class. Students are required to have high motivation and good cooperation in order to produce good quality of learning. A small experience in online class that I have in this university, some students wait until the last minute to post their comments on the classmates’ work after the professor remind them. And some students post their comment just for the sake of posting the comment regardless of the quality of the answer. Of course I cannot judge that they are not learning in these online activities because they might learn by reading the others comment but in term of their contribution to the online discussion is questionable. Therefore the readiness of the students is determinant to the success of blended learning.

Understanding pedagogy underlying the blended learning practice is also crucial to the success of blended learning implementation. First, the focus in on the people who will experience the blended learning: the students and the teachers. The implementation of blended learning should be appropriate with the need of the students and or the community. The schools and the teachers should be aware of the weaknesses and the strength of blended learning so that important actions could be taken to maximize the result of the blended learning.

On the part of the teachers, they should prepare the blended learning carefully so that it really integrates two environments: face to face and virtual learning environment. Students should get feeling comfortable in the learning processes and it answers different needs of the students. This is I think a difficult job especially in the online setting because teachers control over the students almost disappears. As stated before the students’ maturity and the students sense of responsibility to learn should be there to ensure the blended learning success. Blended learning really needs teachers and students cooperation. The teachers need to give feedback on the online experiences in the face to face session so that the students know the function of online class and are motivated to participate in the next online class.

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