Blended courses are a mix of instructional strategies that are delivered both online and face-to-face, with the goal of allowing the student more flexibility in meeting the course requirements while developing twenty-first century technology skills in a safe learning environment.
The combination of instruction delivered both face-to-face (synchronous) and online (asynchronous) gives students the time needed to process the materials as well as to critically engage the content to respond appropriately and with confidence. The dual learning environments offer students the opportunity to interact with the content on a deeper level, resulting in increased comprehension.
Because of the nature of instruction in a blended course, students are given the opportunity to learn with some degree of autonomy. This provides them not only with a more authentic connection to the content, but also a more flexible learning environment. In a blended course, there is some degree of freedom with the pace of interaction with the content, the freedom to work in a different and more comfortable environment, and the opportunity to create genuine educational products.
One of the stated objectives of the PAUSD is to prepare students for the future. Being a university student in the twenty-first century is different than it was for prior generations. Today, there is an expectation at the college level that students are learning beyond the classroom. Universities also focus less on the day-to-day content accountability as compared to their secondary school counterparts. The asynchronous environment in a blended course promotes student centric learning in preparation for this shift, while maintaining an environment of accountability. Additionally, because of the nature of these courses, individual time management becomes a necessary skill for students to master as they prepare to participate in a college or university environment.
Student-centric 21st Century Skills
With technology rapidly changing, knowledge is open to the masses. Students, with the click of a button, have the ability to use the world as a resource. However, working with this seemingly endless body of material is a skill that must continue to be honed. The blended environment encourages this by bridging the resources and tools readily available to students with face-to-face instruction that encourages both incorporation and evaluation of information. Additionally, as communication has moved into a more electronic format, students need to know how to function and collaborate properly and professionally in this environment.