Blended Learning in K-12/Pedagogical Models- blending constructivism, behaviorism and cognitivism
One of the harshest criticisms of Blended Learning is that the focus tends to be on the instructor, rather than on the learner. (Oliver and Trigwell, 2005).
Alonzo et al. point out that the concept of e-learning is new enough that practitioners have not yet begun to apply pedagogical principals to the process of e-learning. (2005)
Ideally, they continue, e-learning (and therefore Blended Learning) should be focused on the individual learner. The course designer should be able to utilize cognitive and constructionist theory to design an effective course. (Alonzo et al., 2005)
This course would be carefully organized so that students can easily insert new knowledge into their pre-existing schema. The organization should then reinforce the acquisition of new knowledge and activities should provide a scaffolded approach to help learners practice new skills by applying their knowledge. All of this is consistent with cognitive theories of learning, which tend to focus on the processes of information acquisition, organization, retrieval, and application.
Constructivist theories of learning describe learning as a process whereby the learner takes in new information, and inserts it into existing schema. Each learner constructs meaning differently based upon their own experiences. In other words, there is a disconnect between knowledge that is taught, and knowledge that is learned, because the learner will re-interpret what is being taught, and construct his or her own meaning from that knowledge.
To support the constructivist approach, a learning community should be created, and then guided through the process of collaboration so that learning is constructed by the group, rather than just the individual. (Alonzo et al., 2005)
In a traditional face-to-face learning environment, one of the more common methods of constructing group meaning is through discussion. The instructor typically begins the discussion by posing a question. The instructor then invites members of the class to make an impromptu response. Other class members then respond to the first student, and a discussion develops. In this way, students are exposed to several perspectives, and the answer to the original question is constructed for each learner based upon the individual's assessment of the group's responses.
In a blended environment, this discussion format can be easily adapted and enhanced. The discussion could be held synchronously, in group chat, or could be held asynchronously, in a forum to which learners post responses. In a blended environment, students have the capability of responding to several points at once. Since an asynchronous discussion can continue over a longer period of time, students can take time to formulate responses, and can respond to a particular part of a comment, even if the discussion has taken another route.