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Blended learning, sometimes called hybrid learning, as described by John Watson in his “Blended learning: The convergence of online and face-to-face education”, is a recently developed learning paradigm that:
…combines online delivery of educational content with the best features of classroom interaction and live instruction to personalize learning, allow thoughtful reflection, and differentiate instruction from student to student across a diverse group of learners. (2008)
As the name of this recently developed learning paradigm implies, blended learning is a blend or combination of online learning and face-to-face instruction. It is primarily a result of a constantly increasing recognition of the combined benefits none of the online/distant learning and face-to-face instruction could provide alone. This recognition has been supported in higher education and by emerging models of learning in Singapore and Australia, two countries known for their highly reputable and quality education (Watson, 2008).
Dziuban, Hartman and Moskal (2004 as cited in Watson, 2008) see blended learning as more than just a “temporal construct”. They see it as a “fundamental redesign of the instructional model”. Dziuban, Hartman and Moskal (2004 as cited in Watson, 2008) provide three essential defining characteristics of this redesigned instructional model.
First, blended learning offers a student-centered instruction (Dziuban, Hartman & Moskal, 2004 as cited in Watson, 2008). This means that the learning paradigm makes students become active and interactive participants in the learning process. Contrary to the traditional lecture method where teachers deliver lessons and students listen and accept whatever they are told, in this new learning paradigm, students are engaged in activities where they can develop, exercise and improve their critical and creative thinking, and become fully responsible of their own learning outcomes.
In connection to its student-centered-instruction, blended learning provides more opportunities for student-instructor, student-student, student-content, and student-outside resources interactions (Dziuban, Hartman & Moskal, 2004 as cited in Watson, 2008). Through the combined elements of online learning and face-to-face instruction, the described increased interactions are highly permissible. Furthermore, such interactions are not only increased but also made better. In short, this new learning paradigm exhausts the benefits of all potential learning interactions students may be engaged in.
Lastly, blended learning provides quality assessment mechanisms for the students and the instructors (Dziuban, Hartman & Moskal, 2004 as cited in Watson, 2008). With the combined essential elements of online learning and face-to-face instruction, both students and instructors are presented with more innovative options for effective assessment procedures.
Considering all these characteristics of the new learning paradigm, it can be considered as one of the most promising models of learning today. In fact, it has been increasingly adopted and developed in various schools, online or not, around the world. Furthermore, present research has proved its promising benefits in learning and development. This new learning paradigm has also been predicted to become the “predominant model of the future—and to become far more common than either one [of the online learning and face-to-face instruction] alone (Watson, 2008).”
Adopting blended learning, Global Accountancy Institute,Inc. strengthens its commitment “to provide professional accountancy education of the highest academic quality, rigorous in its demands and distinctive in its character (2015).” Furthermore, through this learning paradigm, GAI stays faithful to its promise of providing more opportunities for “flexibility, so you can study full-time, or work full-time and study part-time from anywhere in the world (2015).” GAI offers this learning paradigm in the courses it offers like the ACCA Qualification, Foundations in Accountancy (FIA), Certified Accounting Technician (CAT), Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Review Course, Diploma in International Financial Reporting (DipIFR), CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting and Chartered Financial Analysis (CFA) Program.