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Blended Learning and Social Services

Blended Learning and Social Services

Blended learning offers new opportunities for social services organizations to extend their reach and engage clients, and empower staff and administration. WIOA asks that we develop new and holistic ways of delivering career pathway services. Blended learning excels in the social services environment. It can assist organizations in addressing a compelling array of client needs and preferences, and the evolving set of programming requirements.

Blended learning techniques vary, and usually leverage existing teaching practices. In combining traditional learning techniques and digital experiences, organizations can attain new levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Here are a few thoughts about program design and deployment of blended learning in the social services context.
What is Blended Learning?
In blended learning environments, online content and instruction combine with the more traditional classroom experience. In the traditional classroom experience, students sit down in buildings with instructors. Students engaged in blended learning do part of their work online, and part of it in a traditional setting.  The ratio of each varies depending on strategy, resources and experience.

Control and individualization are key triggers for increased student engagement and positive outcomes. In blended learning programs, instructors provide students with a degree of control over the time and place of their lessons, and the way they access the online content. Ideally, instructors should also have the tools to individualize student assignments, and tools to assess their progress through those assignments.
What Has Made Blended Learning So Popular, and Challenging?
Budget constraints, instructor shortages, a demand for results and the pizzazz of technology have all contributed to the growing popularity of blended learning. A well-designed program can better utilize budgets by maximizing the efficiency and quality of instruction delivery, and thereby accelerate positive student outcomes. It’s critical to acknowledge that students’ access and preference for new technology is growing too.

Technology’s pizzazz comes with some unfamiliar territory. Organizations and educators can justifiably feel a loss of control and unsure of how to prepare and manage a blended learning program. Here is where a thoughtful planning process and, perhaps, some professional development support can ease fears. It’s important is for programs to be inclusive of staff and student feedback, and make adjustments along the way. A good blended learning platform will allow organizations’ to take the pulse of a program, and allow them to make effective adjustments.
How Different Blended Learning Formats Work:
Face-to-Face Driver: For classroom or small groups you might try the face-to-face driver type of blended learning. Instructors use online learning as a supplement to the curriculum they teach in a classroom. This format resembles a traditional classroom experience with regular class time and assigned homework. Float Your Boat’s structured curriculum functions as an ideal tool as a stand-alone course or as a supplement to career pathway programming.
Rotation: For students on a defined schedule with limited contact hours. The rotation format is appropriate for individuals or small groups. Here students rotate on a fixed contact schedule and are given specific self-guided assignments. The majority of their time is spent on online learning, and more limited time spent with an instructor. Float Your Boat is ideally suited for rotation learning, because once a schedule is assigned built-in assessment tools allow the instructor to easily track a student’s work and assess progress.
Online Lab: For organizations fortunate to have a dedicated technology enabled classroom, or online lab. In this type of blended learning, an entire online course is offered in a physical location/building, with no remote access by students. Float Your Boat's multimedia, interactive learning tools and built-in assessment features make working with individual students or a group progress in real time a rich experience.
Self-Blend: This type of blended learning is particularly popular with independent-minded in-school and out-of-school students. In the self-blend type of blended learning, students take online courses to supplement a school's or career pathway program's curriculum. Since Float Your Boat's fully bilingual program focuses on employment readiness, it is a natural supplement to any career pathway program. Tech-savvy learners of any age are particularly engaged by the program’s availability on any device.
Online Driver: For students with geographic or transportation constraints that force them to work at remote locations such as a home, library, local school. Online driver students work remotely and usually have limited face-to-face check-ins with instructors. Float Your Boat is designed to strengthen the distance-learning experience for students and instructors. Students can take advantage of a rich interactive, multimedia experience, with all support materials available for download at the student’s site. Instructors can view, track and assess student progress at anytime.

Float Your Boat supports multiple blended learning applications.  
We’ve learned that there are many types of blended learning environments, and Float Your Boat Media's up-to-date content, flexible learning formats and built-in key assessment tools can make it an ideal tool for all of them.

Our curriculum that can be applied to immediate day-to-day situations, as well as serve as improve long-term employability and earning power. Lessons can be used in situations with high, medium, and low levels of instructor support and supervision. Instructors can make decisions about the level of independence with which they want clients to work. Flexible group management tools and on-board assessment features are provided to support instructors and administrators.

Text and audio curriculum in Spanish and English allows unique flexibility. Each lesson concludes with an interactive quiz, and everything (lessons, worksheets, flashcards, and quizzes) can be downloaded and printed. The entire Float Your Boat platform uses a responsive design that allows all media and site functions to work 24/7 on a broad range of digital devices including computers, tablets and smart phones.
A Cost-Effective Change for the Better

Blended learning makes it possible for organizations to pay less while offering more personalized, student-centered educational programs. It can also lead to better, more verifiable outcomes in an array of educational and social service settings. In short, in lean times, blended learning can produce heartening results.

Float Your Boat Media is a social enterprise start up with a mission to improve the employability and earning power of under-served youth and adults. We offer a blended learning platform that provides English literacy, work-readiness, social skill and financial literacy curriculum, media and tools.

As a stand-alone or as a complement to traditional career pathway programs, Float Your Boat is suitable for classroom, individualized study, or distance learning settings. Relevant, accessible and actionable, it builds capacity in individuals and functions as an assessment tool too.

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