Great news! Canada is amongst the world leaders for future skills education, ranking 5th overall according to the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index. And lately in our education system there has been a lot of buzz about “online learning” and especially “blended learning” because of how beneficial they are for future skills education!

You may be wondering, “what exactly is the difference between online and blended learning?” Or you may be wondering if there is even a difference at all! Yes, there actually is a difference between blended and online learning! Let’s talk about how these two learning styles are different and how to use them with your students.

The difference between online learning and blended learning is basically: online learning is learning that takes place remotely and is completely self-directed and solitary, and blended learning mixes online learning and face-to-face instruction!

In a traditional classroom setting, it can be very difficult to accommodate a wide range of student needs. By using technology, we can personalize instruction for each student in a way that is not possible with just face-to-face instruction. Each student can move at their own pace, and the teacher is able to more efficiently monitor student progress and give help as needed. Blended learning helps keep students engaged by using a variety of content types, such as games, tutorial videos, self-directed research etc. which is more engaging than the typical classroom model of the teacher standing at the front of the room, imparting information. And besides, E-learning is actually proven to be more effective than just a traditional classroom model: it increases information retention rates by up to 60%!

Many studies have shown the effectiveness of both online and blended learning. This meta-analysis of over 50 studies of online and blended learning found that both the online and the blended model produced stronger student outcomes on average than face-to-face learning! And studies of blended instruction found the largest advantage over face-to-face than the purely online instruction.

The STEM Minds Online Academy (SMOA) can be used as both an online learning platform and a blended learning platform! SMOA is a learning platform that is designed to meet many student needs. Students can participate completely online individually, or teachers can use it as a blended learning tool. There are many options based on your student needs! In a traditional classroom, teachers can choose to teach themselves through the online platform, then lead their students. Or they can all watch the instructional videos as a class then work on assignments independently, or students can work completely independently and the teacher works to guide students along the way. As is always the case in a blended learning model, it is up to awesome teachers to decide what will work best for their class.

In online learning it can be tricky to encourage engagement and participation. But with the right tools, engagement is entirely possible! We keep kids participating by using simulators, e-learning games, and e-assessment games. These games work both in the blended learning model in the classroom as well as the individual online learning model. Check out our blog post about how gamification engages students.

Blended learning is becoming increasingly popular worldwide as many countries are recognizing the need to prepare kids for future skills. Online forms of learning have become so popular because they provide more flexible access to instructional content from anywhere, at any time. Online learning also increases the accessibility of learning experiences for students who are unable to attend a traditional face-to-face course! By harnessing the power of technology, we can make more learning available to more students worldwide!

Did we mention, online learning and blended learning is also cost-effective? This study states that a fully blended learning model school-wide actually costs 15% less than a traditional model on average.

But the blended learning approach does not eliminate the need for a face-to-face instructors! This is one of the reasons that it does not yield quite as much cost savings as a purely online model. However, this is made up for by the fact that blended learning is not only equally as effective, but actually more effective than traditional classroom learning.

Basically, both online and blended learning models have been shown to have strong student outcomes. And blended learning allows us to maximize both the benefits of face-to-face learning in the classroom and more self-directed online learning.

Both online learning and blended learning can help students be successful, however you need to determine which model is right for your students! Often in a traditional school setting, blended learning is the way to go.

Blended learning offers a new way to reach and engage with students and it also prepares them for the 21st-century skills they will need to succeed in the future. This means that incorporating blended learning into more classrooms will require different approaches to teaching! Many people think their students aren’t ready, it won’t work, the school is too small etc. but blended learning is possible in all schools, it just requires great teachers to make it happen!