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Blended Learning: Save Your Classroom Time

2416 words - 10 pages

Elena Arkhipova, PhD, assistant professor
Saint-Petersburg State University, Russian Federation

Blended Learning: Save Your Classroom Time

The very concept of blended learning is widely discussed nowadays. There are both enthusiastic and skeptical points of views, but the main missing point is we do not know what students think about blended learning and whether it feels more productive than face-to-face one.
We accept the definition of blended learning as ‘any program where a student learns partly at a supervised physical location away from home (such as school) and partly through content delivered online, with some student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace’1. ...view middle of the document...

Substantial proportion of the content is delivered online, typically uses online discussions, and typically has some face-to face meetings.
80 + %
Online
A course where most or all the content is delivered online. Typically has no face-to-face meetings.

Basically, meeting the words ‘technology in education’, or ‘internet resources in learning’, or ‘foreign language online’ we also meet a positive approach; it is a common knowledge that using new technologies is good for students.
Creating blended courses is really a trend nowadays: according to iNACOL report, ‘75% of US school districts had one or more students enrolled in a blended learning course in 2010. Over 4 million k-12 students took part in a formal online learning program (including 217,000 students in cyber charter schools). Online learning enrollments are growing by 46% a year and the growth rate is accelerating’4. Although the statistics concerns the USA students only, the tendency is clear worldwide: online learning gets more popular every day.
Using technology for technology sake should definitely be not encouraged, no matter in web facilitated or blended course, but we cannot deny that the audience we have now is differently educated. Years ago, children – not to mention students – came to school to learn from scratch; these days they start learning as soon as they can sit up straight and follow the cartoons their mothers switch on for them. Teenagers get much more interactive education than ever; the sources of information are numerous and vary from online encyclopedias to social networks. First year students cannot imagine their lives without smartphones, tablets and computers; technology forms their attitude to learning – and therefore it impacts their motivation.
The presented research was undertaken as a part of NIFLAR (Networked Interaction in Foreign Language Acquisition and Research) project. The main point about learning a language – not an academic subject – is that communication is a vital part of learning as it is not just the process but the main aim itself. ‘For this, researchers develop pedagogical tasks in which intercultural awareness and authentic social interaction play a much more important role than in present-day language education’5.
So the message of the project has been learning through communication with native speakers using specially developed tasks prepared for the occasion by researchers, participating teachers and teaching students.
There were three groups of student participators: Dutch, Spanish and Russian ones. Participants from Spain and the Netherlands were learning Russian language while Russian students played the teaching roles (in terms of language acquisition). The main aim was to investigate the added value of interaction through VWC &/or VW in the development of Intercultural Communicative Competence of participants (as compared to traditional settings). To measure this value, we suggested the...

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