Blended learning, also known as b-learning, is an educational approach that combines face-to-face classroom learning with e-learning via online digital platforms. During class time, the students put into practice the theoretical aspects taught in the classroom along with what they have learnt online (flipped or inverted classroom strategy). Thus, class hours are used as a “social” space for interaction and practice among the students while receiving constant feedback and guidance from the teacher.
This new educational method has been introduced into language teaching with remarkable success. Thanks to this combined approach the student can study more easily, without having to travel to a class more than once a week. Employing any one of the different platforms that exist in the market, the learning process – which is always supervised by the teacher – can take place at home, at the office if there is enough spare time, or even using a tablet or mobile phone while journeying on public transport.
The blended courses at NELC
We began to offer blended courses at NELC in 2016, when we realised that many of our students had too little time in their busy work schedules to study English. Accordingly, we designed the Blended Track course (which depending on the time of year is known as Autumn, Winter and Spring Track) in which class attendance at our outstanding facilities is only necessary once a week. In the case of the Summer Track (the intensive summer blended course), face-to-face classes are provided from Monday to Thursday for one month. Lessons in the classroom are combined with tailor-made activities using the Moodle platform.
This provides a personalised online space for each course and level, where students can find the material needed for blended learning. This content is prepared by our own teachers and very much focused on the profile of each of our clients. The e-learning platform includes reading and consultation material, videos, links, a wiki (where students can work together on the same task) and a forum, and allows internal messaging between students and teachers. Each student is given a username and password to access the Moodle platform.
The main feature of NELC’s blended method is that students are not limited to grammar exercises, vocabulary and so on but instead must analyse the material provided by the teacher or, for example, carry out a task explained by the teacher in order to present it in the next class to the rest of their classmates. Another exercise might consist of working with the proposed material in order to participate in an activity such as a meeting or a discussion. The work, therefore, implies understanding, analysis and reflection, and includes preparatory tasks for working together with classmates.
Companies, in favour of b-learning
Companies value b-learning very positively. The advantages they highlight include the following: company investment in training is optimised, b-learning makes English-learning available to all the employees, and it strengthens bonds between employees. Other aspects in favour of blended courses are the great flexibility they provide in terms of the pace of learning, the removal of limitations on space and time faced by employees, the constant updating of materials, and an improvement in employees’ academic skills, which raises their self-esteem.
Students who take our blended courses can progress a level by completing two b-tracks (except in the case of the Summer Track, which covers a full level). If you are interested in receiving further information about the b-learning method applied to studying English, please contact us and we will fill you in on the all details.