Have you ever heard of blended learning? Irrespective of your answer to this question, this informative article will be a good fit for you. This article explores the meaning of blended learning and its advantages and disadvantages.
Blended learning is an eLearning method that combines independent study and traditional in-class education. In other words, it blends the best of face-to-face and online learning elements. This strategy thus helps to provide an engaging and impactful learning experience to the students.
About Blended Learning
Blended learning involves using various combinations of traditional face-to-face learning experiences with online and mobile technologies. This strategy aims to use each element to enhance the other.
The design of this learning method is to meet the personal learning needs of every college student. This strategy allows tutors to plan personalized educational strategies and instructions. The combination of face to face and online communication enables students to work with tutors when they are at school. At the same time, it allows the learners to use extra online resources at home. Thus, they get to ask their tutors for help in class. They use online materials to work on their projects and papers at home.
This feature helps students to maximize their engagement. As a result of this benefit, students get to showcase their creativity. They also get to have a deeper understanding of subjects.
Blended learning is a common practice in higher education. This strategy is so popular that it is identified as one of the most significant trends in education change.
Schools and teachers need to be aware of the positives and negatives of this approach before adopting it. This step will enable them to make an informed decision. It will also prepare them to deal with all the obstacles on their way.
Pros of Blended Learning
Some of the advantages of blended learning are:
- Suitable for large groups: one of the benefits of blended learning is that it enables educators to reach a larger audience in a shorter time. This merit is because this mode of education doesn’t need the trainer to be present all the time. Thus, as an educator, you can dedicate yourself to other tasks when your students are busy learning by themselves.
- Boosts collaboration: blended learning features collaborative tools like online discussions, blogs, drop boxes, etc. These tools help foster connection between the students and educators even outside the classroom. In other words, it facilitates instantaneous communication between the teachers and students.
- Offers individualized support: this learning method enables instructors to personalized instruction to every student. This attribute serves catering to the needs of each student.
- Flexibility and increased accessibility: tools like the Learning Management System enhance accessibility to helpful resources. In other words, teachers and students get round-the-clock access to learning materials.
- Interactive educational experience: blended learning also features technology-enabled educational aids. Some of these aids are interactive educational games, pear decks, etc. This feature results in fun-filled learning. Thus, you get to increase students’ interest in sessions.
- Enhances computer literacy skills: with blended learning, students gain computer literacy and real-world skills. With this feature, learners are better prepared for the future. Also, it helps them to make the most of the digital opportunities they are offered.
- Track participants’ skills and performance: this technique enables tutors to review each learner’s time on a task. The data they generate on online apps helps them gather meaningful insights from the student. Moreover, with the data, they can determine the practical activities and the activities that need improvisation.
- Efficient student assessment:the granular reporting and automatic grading with a built-in rubric is another unique feature of this learning method. These tools allow for the comprehensive evaluation of students. The possibility of immediate feedback enables students to be aware of their progress.
Cons of Blended Learning
Even though blended learning boasts proven effectiveness and promising potential, it has its own challenges. Some of its demerits are:
- Huge technological dependence: the key ingredients of the blended lesson plans are specialized tools and resources. Due to this feature, this technique depends mainly on the Internet. Thus, it can be challenging for areas with little/no internet access to use blended learning.
- High costs: generally, incorporating advanced technology for blended learning in schools needs infrastructure setup. It also demands investment in devices. These attributes make the use of blending learning expensive.
- IT literacy: another fundamental problem of blended learning is technological literacy. The lack of a basic understanding of relevant online tools and technologies tends to be a significant barrier for teachers. Also, the unreliable nature of some digital resources and the difficulty in using them tend to be a problem for tutors. It is essential to undertake technical training and support for the teachers to overcome this problem.
- Significant overload for teachers: all stages of blended learning demands a great deal of extra work for teachers. This technology requires tutors to broaden their outlooks and choose the apt tools and apps. At the same time, it demands them to put in efforts to execute a well-balanced and effective lesson plan. Also, finding the right balance between online and face-to-face learning requires more time and effort. As a result, some teachers, especially conservative ones, find this learning method very tough at the initial stage. In all, the significant input of effort can make them unwilling to adapt to this new culture.
- Increased cognitive load for students: blended learning could be a new world of learning for students at first. Thus, they might take some time to accept it and become comfortable with this new teaching method. Also, teachers may use the range of possibilities in this model to overload students with educational activities and content. All these issues make the students experience a cognitive load.
- Lack of supervision – blended learning exhibits less supervision compared to face-to-face learning. This phenomenon can thus affect students’ motivation levels in a negative way. The need to self-manage learning can degrade many students’ performance.
Even though blended learning comes with its share of good and bad, it offers the best of two worlds in an effective way. In other words, it provides a good blend of traditional learning and online learning.
Moreover, the cons of this learning method are easy to overcome with the right strategies. In all, blended learning can be a beneficial learning technique when applied with wisdom,