There are various definitions of a blended learning classroom but at its core, it is an approach to integrating digital content as a part of the classroom instructional framework. Driven by changes happening in classrooms around the country, blended learning provides the variety of learning opportunities needed to address the needs of diverse learners.
In most classroom settings, blended learning combines the delivery of digital content at the individual and small group level along with face-to-face content and activity.
Major components of a successful blended learning environment are cooperative and collaborative learning. Collaborative learning is a method of teaching and learning in which students team together to explore a significant question or create a meaningful project. This may be a group of students working in a classroom on a combined project or students from different schools working together on the Internet on a shared project. Cooperative learning is a specific kind of collaborative learning. In cooperative learning, students work together in small groups on a structured activity. Cooperative groups work face to face and learn to work as a team.
In today’s work environments, this type of communication, team building and problem solving is critical. We need to start the process in the K12 classroom.
In small groups, students can share strengths and also bolster their weaknesses. They develop their interpersonal skills. They learn to deal with conflict. When cooperative groups are guided by clear objectives, students engage in numerous activities that improve the understanding of subjects explored.
The skills needed to work together in groups are quite distinct from those used to succeed in working a math problem on your own or completing most classroom or homework assignments. In a world where being a “team player” is often a part of business success, cooperative learning is a very useful and relevant tool.
In a blended learning classroom, multiple approaches to learning are acknowledged. For some tasks, individual work may be the most efficient, while for others, cooperative groups work best. As the movement toward mobile devices in the hands of all students becomes a closer reality, we need to counter-balance the 1:1 with the advantages of working cooperatively in small groups.
Research suggests there are many benefits to cooperative and collaborative learning such as:
- gaining deeper understanding of content
- increasing overall achievement in grades
- improved self-esteem
- higher motivation to remain on task
- allowing students to become actively involved in the content
- taking ownership of their own learning
- resolving group conflicts
- improve teamwork skills
We want our students to enjoy the benefits of individualized learning and customized content delivery, but not at the expense of learning to communicate effectively with others or knowing how to defend your opinion verbally. We need to produce a counter-balance in the classroom so all aspects of learning can be explored. Touchjet provides the mechanism to effectively manage small cooperative groups in the classroom while still using cutting edge technology designed for group work. Touchjet provides the counter-balance to the 1:1 movement.