Blended learning can be defined as an integration of traditional face-to-face, physical education and online learning (virtual learning) using technology and automation, to initiate active learning, interaction, and develop knowledge, and creativity – basically, be future ready. It aims to incorporate instructional technology with an instructional programme of study.
Blended learning, commonly referred to as “hybrid” learning, aims at providing students with the opportunity to enjoy both traditional and modern methods of learning. Under this model, a student can attend classes in a real-world lecture setting and then enhance learning by completing online multimedia coursework. As such, the student would only have to physically attend class once a week and subsequently be free to work at their own pace without stressing over scheduling issues. We can explore the benefits of this model of learning below.
- Flexibility – A positive aspect of blended learning is the increased flexibility of access to learning which facilitates both faculty and students. The internet provides flexibility and productivity in teaching and learning activities. Lectures can be conducted via video or teleconference links so that learners can attend classes online. Course material is readily accessible on the Web. The blended learning approach allows learners who live at a distance from the physical location of the institute to enrol in a programme, wherein the online component allows them to work as per their convenience with the option of accessing the internet without commuting. Yes, that is what you call Education 4.0.
- Interesting and Innovative Form of Learning – Blended learning encourages student interest, interaction and satisfaction in the learning environment. It enables students to be more motivated by involving them in the learning process, thereby enhancing their commitment and effort.
- Extended Reach – By digitalising the content provided by specialised instructors or subject-matter experts, time and effort spent by them is significantly reduced. It allows students to access valuable educational content which may not have been available to them through traditional methods of learning due to time or location constraints – another key benefit of Education 4.0. It expands the scope for learning and educational interaction.
However, there are always two sides to a coin. Blended Learning provides a host of opportunities for students as emphasised above; yet we must throw light on the challenges and difficulties faced by students in this model.
- Importance of Physical Learning – One should keep in mind that what works for in-person training may not necessarily be ideal for online training. Some students may realise that certain topics or concepts require traditional forms of teaching, which shows us that not every concept or subject can benefit from the advantages of online teaching.
- Extra Responsibility – Students may assume that fewer physical classes would result in lesser work responsibility. This attitude may lead to them having difficulties handling the responsibilities of self-learning.
- Lack of Social Interaction – A prominent drawback of inculcating technology and the internet in learning is the lack of social activity and interaction. One of the most important aspects of learning is physical face-to-face interaction, which is lacking in the form of Blended Learning.
It is tough to conclude whether Blended Learning is the way forward for students or not. It’s usefulness and practicality is highly volatile and subjective. Students should analyse and investigate whether the concepts of online and media learning suits their studying style and makes them future ready and more importantly whether their courses of interest benefit from the features of Blended Learning or not.