Blended Learning Blog 5: Designing Effective Learning Environments

Research has demonstrated that a well designed, effective, learning environment is learner centered, knowledge centered, community centered, and finally assessment centered. Thankfully, blended learning models easily includes these 4 important characteristics.

What’s a learner centered environment? It has been shown that new knowledge is found in the base of what student already know about. It is thus important to help students see and connect with the knowledge they have obtained from inside the classroom with experiences from outside the classroom.

Instructors should get to know more about student’s interests, backgrounds, and competencies. In a second time they should design the content of their course that builds upon that foundation. Thanks to blended learning, the students and teachers interact more and this learning model create an environment in which teachers can understand where the students struggle and excel. Teachers then will be better positioned to respond to their student’s needs.

Creating a learner centered environment is only one piece of the puzzle in designing effective learning environments.

Learning environments should also be knowledge centered. In order to design knowledge centered learning environments, instructors should consider not only what they’re teaching, but also why they’re teaching it.

Classes and courses should be given in a way that students can master the course but also look at the content from a broader context that is relevant to our own lives.

The students should put into action what they have learnt in class to solve to complete meaningful tasks. Through blended learning, teachers can create more challenging learning activities that lead to an active, participative and sustainable learning.

A learning environment that is both knowledge centered and learner centered empowers students to take more ownership of their learning process and supports their metacognitive development.

Then students can become master of their own learning when the learning environment is also created to be assessment centered. Designing an assessment centered learning environment doesn’t necessarily entail more exams, worksheets, quizzes,… Instead this approach means thinking in a clever and careful way about how work is assigned to the students.

Formative assessments are meant to provide both teachers and learners with valuable feedback that can help them change their approaches to other problems and learning experiences in the future. This way of doing is different from the more traditional summative way of assessing, which evaluates what students’ memory on the course. The effectiveness of assessments depends on the extent to which the learning environment is learner centered, knowledge centered, and finally, community centered.

As the name shows it, a community centered learning environment sees a classroom as a community. An effective learning community takes into account teachers, students as well as their role in school, the town they live in and global communities. The learning environment should be created to facilitate the learners with their larger community, since one of the primary purposes of education is to help students become functional, contributing members of society.

In community centered learning environments, instructors design lessons that nudge students to apply what they learn in their classes to their everyday lives.

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Joséphine is inbound marketing manager at Wooclap, a collaborative tech solution for conference and training sessions. You can follow Wooclap on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Medium.

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