By Neha Singh
The amount of attention blended learning is garnering with the COVID-19 crisis is mind–boggling. No doubt, blended learning is a major disruption in the education industry. With most nations under lockdown due to the spread of coronavirus, not only educational institutes but also several corporates are switching to the blended learning framework for training and empowering their workforce.
Before we go into the details of how such a framework is changing the education paradigm at the global level, here is a brief understanding of what do we mean by blended learning.
In simple words, blended learning brings together the aspects of traditional teaching methods with online teaching methodologies. This blend of traditional and modern teaching elements builds a system that is more student-friendly and focuses on enriching the overall learning process. Even though today a lot of conversation around this education technology is because of the COVID lockdown; this model is also a practical solution in countries with low education budgets and the shortage of teachers.
Top 5 Reasons to Adopt Blended Learning
1. Clear Communication
You might be aware of how communication patterns have changed and evolved over the past few decades. Especially when it comes to the millennial generation, technology is an inherent part of their everyday communication process. On trying to understand this shift in the mode of communication, I came across a survey, which found 75% of internet users prefer digital communication over face-to-face interaction.
As blended learning employs aspects of e-learning, it caters to this specific requirement of the students’ fraternity. As good learning must put the learner at its core this strategy has evident benefits.
2. Enhanced Engagement
So, what what do we mean by blended learning in our classrooms? Consistent engagement has always been a pain-point in the traditional classroom/training–room based approach. Blended learning framework being a mix of online and traditional teaching is far more interactive in nature. By adding interactive elements to the teaching process, teachers around the globe have noticed better engagement levels from the students.
This learning system also provides metrics through which it is easier to measure and understand the learning behavior of the students. Based on the behavior patterns of the students, it becomes easier for the teaching staff to design modules and assignments which will accelerate learning.
3. Better Collaboration
One major restriction of the traditional classroom is the lack of time for effective collaboration between the students and teachers, and among the students themselves. Ed-tech solutions like blended learning platforms provide huge scope for engaging in formal discussions. Dynamic online discussions, backed by knowledge sharing, and feedback from peer group give a bigger picture to the teachers on how well the students are grasping the course module.
Every student is different. The pace at each student learns and grasps a new subject is not the same. Blended learning platforms empower the students to undertake self-paced learning. This kind of flexibility is hardly found in classroom cohorts. It has been seen that whenever students are provided the freedom to learn at their own pace, their engagement with the learning process increases drastically. Blended learning frameworks, thus, addresses the problem of few students feeling left out in the traditional classroom setup.
5. Empowers the Teachers
Often the best of teachers face the hurdle of being incapable to design classes that cater to the needs of all their students. Through blended learning, teachers can now easily incorporate videos, interactive presentations, as well as audio clips that students can access at their own pace. The gap between the teaching and learning process can be filled with this revolutionary technology. I think it is fair to conclude that not only students but teachers also benefit from adopting blended learning technology.
Blended learning is a major improvement on the traditional teaching systems. Its role in making the teaching and learning process seamless is the reason even large corporations are adopting this technology for employee training.
Now that I have discussed the advantages of the blended learning framework, I would like to discuss some common blended learning models as well.
Blended Learning Models
a. Rotation Model: This is the most common form of blended learning. Most students do not want to be totally dependent on an online platform for learning their modules. They do need some handholding and human-touch in their education system. The rotation model works best in such a scenario. Here the students get guidance from their classroom teachers and move on to online assignments and learning. The teachers intervene according to the requirements of the students.
While on the one hand, the students have a sense of control over their studies; the teachers also can tailor courses for the specific requirements of the students. This model works best in small groups, wherein it is easier for the teachers to keep track of the students’ performance.
b. Project-based Learning: Also known as “situated learning”, project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach towards education. Through this model, students get to explore and solve real-world problems. This model involves elements of role-playing, assessment of multiple skills, as well as the collaborative efforts of the students.
c. Flipped Classroom: The flipped classroom model is the reverse of the traditional classroom setup. In this model, classroom lectures are replaced by online videos. Backed by the knowledge gained from the online class taken at home, the students come back to the classrooms and interact with their teachers in a more engaging manner.
As the students have more access to the teachers (both online and then in the classroom) they tend to learn things faster, develop critical thinking, and are motivated to explore more about the subject.
Perhaps it is because of all these advantages that several governments are now encouraging the use of blending learning platforms. Recently on National Technology Day, Debjani Ghosh, President of India’s National Association of Software Companies (NASSCOM) called upon the need to embrace blended learning as the future of education in India. With students being at home due to coronavirus outbreak, it is only logical we use digital technology to make most of the lost classroom hours.
Growth of Blended Learning Framework
Market Research Company Technavio, predicts the global blended learning courses market to grow at a CAGR of close to 12% by 2022. With the COVID-19 outbreak, this percentage is expected to increase further. While in the past the US was among the major markets for blended learning courses, with easy access to the internet and digitization of curriculum, countries in the APAC region will also adopt this education model. Countries like India and China are already looking for ways in which the advantages of blended learning framework can be leveraged in their education system.
Among many other things, coronavirus has highlighted that the future of education lies in building “connected classrooms” working on the principles of blended learning.
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