Authored by Dr. Prem Das Maheshwari, Business Director South Asia D2L
The 21st-century classroom has gone through a transformational change from what it was before. Even with the rapid advancements in edtech, the world of education has moved on from single-modal methods - no matter how innovative - into a blended learning system.
Given the magnitude of this paradigm shift to online education, educators may be challenged with encouraging collaboration and facetime with their learners. Blended learning combines a mix of traditional teaching with digital instruction to foster this interaction and enhance the way students learn in a more balanced environment.
What is blended learning?
A myriad of techniques fall under the umbrella of blended learning, such as the flipped classroom, project-based learning or alternative credit recovery, among others. These can be applied anywhere from K-12 schools to vocational courses for a more enriching learning experience. The goal here is to reconstruct the learning atmosphere by combining the best of both worlds - modern and traditional.
Quality education is a need, not an option
The need for advanced education even in rural areas is quintessential to a country’s development as a whole. With the growing demand for accessibility, quality and efficient education paired with the sudden catapult into remote learning, institutions globally have started the adoption of the blended learning model.
Blended learning has taken shape in the region too, such as in major countries like China, Japan and South Korea. In Asia, however, some studies suggest that there have been suboptimal results in the use of blended learning. These issues may have been a result of contextual differences in the way blended learning is conducted and the reliance on traditional teaching. Other times, educators and institutions fail at efficiently using this model because of a lack in relevant knowledge and tools to properly administer teaching.
On the other hand, online instruction that accompanies the traditional classroom has seemingly made its way into the first choice for many students. Thus, educators bear the responsibility of delivering a more fruitful experience to these eager learners.
Modern solutions for the modern learner
As the world shifts, educational value creation should be targeted at the pedagogical aspect of school. The focus here is on accessibility for all and the individual needs of the new-age learner.
Online education has erased the geographical boundaries that used to exist in education, and learners are able to access the resources they need, no matter where on the planet they are. The other significant demographic are the less-privileged students who reside in rural areas or differently-abled that are unable to attend physical school. Online learning has opened up a new hope for these students in particular. With innovations in edtech, other groups of students have benefitted as well, such as through the introduction of independent learning, enhanced gamification and video content.
However, there are also certain pitfalls to online education: teachers find it difficult to build a rapport with their students due to a lack of face-to-face activity and of understanding ways to engage students online. Ending up with the wrong virtual tools also run the risk of dehumanisation and deprivation of the social interaction required to grow.
The modern student body is diverse and dispersed. To give all students an equal fighting chance, educators have to take on a more personalised approach that can be modified to cater to each student. Blended learning has become one of the best and most feasible ways to cultivate an enriching experience through pushing engagement, flexibility and communication.
As the pandemic last year accelerated institutions' need for edtech tools, blended learning is given a huge boost in the right direction. These dedicated online learning platforms aid in the quick adoption of blended learning by making it easy and fuss-free. With elearning platforms like Brightspace by D2L, teachers can utilise the available technologies needed for communication, interaction and assessments. All the data is also stored and trackable, ready to retrieve in or out of the school building.
Obviously, with any quick movement in advancement, there is always room for improvement. Untrained educators, limited access or IT knowledge, progress stalls - these are the weak points that we can anticipate. However, blended learning has taken the education world by storm, with some countries even planning to implement it fully post-pandemic and with support from edtech tool Brightspace. So don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.