Blended learning or "hybrid learning" is a learning model that combines both formal (traditional classroom) and non-formal (online courses) methodologies. What interests the RCS Steering Committee is that blended learning integrates technology into the instruction to enhance learning. Being able to use technology to our advantage will only benefit a student as he/she enters college, since most college courses utilize technology.
Much has been learned, both positive and negative, about remote learning through the pandemic. Momentum has been building in education for blended learning for quite some time. In Zeeland, iCademy has developed and used this method for over 10 years. What intrigued us most is how the learning materials can be easily fit for use in our Christian education. Content is editable and is more suitable for use by our Protestant Reformed teaches than text books in delivering information in accord with our Reformed, Christian standards. Also, we saw how the blended model can be used by small, remote groups to operate a school where land, building and teacher availability creates hurdles. This especially caught our interest in the furtherance of the Protestant Reformed Christian school movement in our denomination.
1. It is cost-efficient. (Less lost learning time due to students missing classes. Transportation costs can be reduced if scheduling creates study days at home. Portions of some courses can be delivered live-online including quizzes, tests, and reading assignments.)
2. Technology and online materials can increase student engagement. (Teachers can creatively combine online instruction materials and face-to-face instruction. More insight is available about the student's progress and adjust individual instruction as needed. Education is more accessible - Educational materials are available outside of the classroom hours, anywhere. This accessibility could translate to a much greater interest in learning and more successful outcomes.
3. Blended learning is efficient. (Teachers are able to more accurately assess the student's knowledge and help to teach concepts more efficiently.)
This is such a small beginning of an explanation of blended learning, but it is not home schooling. It is easily seen that parents have to be on board to make blended learning work. There is more expected on the home-front; parents need to be active in the process. This system is already used in several of our Protestant Reformed schools to varying degrees.
We believe that for this model to be used in our school, it must be done in a way that upholds community among the students, facilitates building of personal relationships with the teacher, maintains the benefits and value of face-to-face (or as we say, soul-to-soul) instruction, upholds the standards of Protestant Reformed Christian education, and delivers excellent learning results.