In a typical face-to-face learning environment, the teacher and students come together in the classroom and discussion and the exchange of ideas can happen quickly and easily among the students and the teacher. The teacher may also find it easier to determine the needs, plan, problem, and learning process of each student.
For online learning, the students get to access the class from the comfort of their home (most of the time) through the use of different available medium like a personal computer, iPad, mobile phone, etc. and get taught by the teacher who could be miles away. This way of teaching has most probably been thought of as impossible 10-15 years ago when access to fast internet is limited to a few privileged groups and the absence of cheap technology devices. With the familiarization of the digital world, younger students are more ready than the previous generation to embark on the route of online learning. Today, trainers have the luxury to choose from multiple platforms and websites to decide which model suits their teaching best. However, there are still limitations to what online learning can achieve and hence, a new model of learning has emerged recently in the past year; blended learning. Blended learning is a combination of face-to-face learning and online learning. In today’s progression of the internet and the ease of access to it, we are moving faster in every sphere of life as it not only helps to save time but also making many tasks easier. Having said that, resistance is still present towards blended learning (until the recent COVID-19 situation) when both parents and students are more used to the physical classroom teaching style and are afraid that they may not be getting the most out of the classes through blended learning. Here are some ways to improve the engagement and willingness of participants to accept blended learning.
1) Online Discussion Online discussions can help to create many amazing opportunities for the trainer and the student to discuss and share their ideas.
By setting aside time for online discussion, students can still engage with other classmates to form the social bond, instead of just a one-way watching of video presentations. With the familiarisation of technology, due to an early age exposure in most advanced countries, students are also very familiar with the use of devices and how they can use them to effectively communicate during online classes. An introverted student may even perform better in an online discussion since the teacher can equalize the contribution and participation of all the students in an online discussion.
2) Instructional Video An instructional video focuses more on teaching a single topic, to deliver the essential information for educators to their teacher, allowing them to concentrate on bite-sized teaching. Most can make an instructional video that can effectively convey the main idea of a topic in less than 10 minutes since these videos usually last no longer than 5 mins in playtime. With an instructional video, the student can better understand the lessons as it requires a shorter attention span and they can always refer back to this resource when they are doing a particular assignment in the future, instead of having to revisit an entire module again. 3) Online Projects Coming out with mandatory projects that must be done online during the online sessions can be great for blended learning.
The students will then be forced to share their idea and knowledge in an online discussion as they will need to complete the online project during the session with the rest of their teammates. Online projects should focus on new thoughts and ideas, that can allow students to easily collaborate using the selected online platform. Since the students can access resources and collaborate easily online, the student will also have more control over their learning journey.
4) Infographics Instead of just speaking through a screen and trying to teach students with short attention span with your voice, flashing some graphics and photos across the monitor once in a while may be a good idea to improve the general user experience of the student too. Image representation plays an important role in blended learning and, especially with the development of technology, interesting infographics can be created easily with various platforms within minutes even for people without formal graphic design training. These can be images that describe a specific Chemistry topic that could be otherwise difficult to image with just words, shows the timeline of happenings for a major History event, etc. As the common saying goes, a picture sometimes tell a thousand words!
5) Online Quizzes In blended learning, the instructors create daily online quizzes for the students to gauge how much they have learned for the day. The use of online quizzes during class time is also one of the most effective ways to keep the attention of the student as it keeps everyone on their toes. Another great benefit of integrating online quizzes is that they help students better understand specific topics that they could have missed during the online class due to various reasons e.g. spacing out, distracted, since most of the quizzes will show you answers at the end of the quiz. On the whole, blended learning can include e-learning before the traditional classroom class, where students can study online courses and prepare themselves for a new module before coming to school, or enhance their learning with additional home-based learning after the classroom lessons for the teacher to touch on a few more confusing or important parts of a subject. With the help of blended learning, the student can also track their progress and get to know where they can improve on after going through each subject. The availability of resources online will also help students help themselves by revisiting specific topics that they need more time to absorb or have totally forgotten about.