Mixed learning is not a new term nor does it mean the same for different authors. Some say it is the combination of different modes of network-based technology to achieve an educational goal: virtual classes, collaborative learning, streaming, and audio. While some authors are of the opinion tat it is a combination of different pedagogical theories (constructivism, behaviorism, etc.) to achieve learning objectives with or without technology. Combine any form of instructional technology: video, CD-ROM, etc.
What the different authors and professionals seem to agree on is that their true potential is still to be developed. The most accepted definition is that which considers the ML as a learning model that combines face-to-face teaching with non-face-to-face technology, with the objective not only of providing new resources to the classroom but also of replacing certain face-to-face activities with others supported by technology. It is an eclectic and practical learning model that is not based on particular learning theory.
In the ML it is essential to make the selection of appropriate media, which will be different for each educational need. Nor is there a formula that indicates the optimal combination for any educational context.
Possible components in a combination
There are different dimensions that we can take into account when making a combination:
- Face-to-face and online learning: The combination of these two dimensions allows synchronous and asynchronous activities. It allows greater Spatio-temporal flexibility while maintaining spontaneity and human contact. Online activities contribute to greater reflection and the possibility of participation. The use of these two modalities stimulates interaction at all levels, the motivation of the student being simpler. The resources required correspond to those of face-to-face, classroom, teacher and synchrony teaching, and a virtual learning environment that ensures communication between teacher- content-student. Combine the face-to-face tutor with the virtual one. You can combine different means of accessing the content.
- Individual learning at their own pace and collaborative learning: The first allows the student to learn at their own pace, using their previous experiences and developing their own abilities. While the second allows the social construction of knowledge, adding to the experience of other members of the group. Individual learning requires interaction primarily with the contents and ability of self-regulation by the student. For its part, collaborative learning necessarily requires interaction with other students and negotiating with them. None of the two types of learning requires Spatio-temporal coincidence, although in the second it is more common. The two can be developed in both a traditional and a virtual classroom
- Combination of synchronous and asynchronous computer tools: The combination of these two dimensions requires the existence of a virtual learning environment through which the student-facilitator-content interaction can be carried out. It offers the breaking of space-time limits and offers greater flexibility in learning, allowing learning at the pace of each student, increasing the ability to choose, and collaborative work. It offers a greater depth of reflection and participation but reduces spontaneity and human contact disappears. It requires a high capacity for self-regulation. The follow-up and tutoring of the course will always be online.
- Self-directed and guided by the instructor activities: Self-directed activities do not require a certain physical scope for their realization, just as they do not need a teacher or tutor, while for the activities guided by the instructor, this is the one that determines the contents to be used, marks the times and performs the evaluation. Both can be carried out both face-to-face and virtual and, although they can be developed without the use of technology, their proper use allows enhancing the advantages of both.
General categories of combinations
- Trainer: These are training programs in which the combination is used to provide flexibility to students, who are trying to provide the same educational experience but through different modalities.
- Enhancer: It allows making increasing changes in the pedagogical approach but does not attempt the radical transformation of teaching-learning processes.
- Transformer: The combination allows the transformation of the methodology used, promoting the creation of knowledge through interaction. This type of combination allows an intellectual activity that is practically unfeasible without the use of technology.
Mixed type learning for Training
The effectiveness of the training results will depend on several factors. The use of a specific methodology does not guarantee optimal results alone. In the first place, it will be necessary to carry out an analysis of the learning situation to assess how the use of BL can improve training in a specific learning situation.
Another fundamental element that we cannot ignore is the target audience to which the training is aimed, are you prepared for the ML, do you meet the basic requirements for this type of training? In the same way, it is necessary to assess whether the organizational culture of the institution fits with the use of this methodology and if the technological infrastructure is available.
The pedagogical model will also be decisive. If the use of technology is not accompanied by a change in the way of teaching and simply results in a prolongation of the face-to-face way of teaching based on the transmission of knowledge, the BL will not contribute to obtaining better training results. However, if it serves to favour interaction and approach us to more student-centred learning and through practice, the ML will contribute to obtaining greater motivation and obtaining learning that achieves a greater transfer to the workplace.