Integration is key

Over the last ten years, we have seen a rapid increase in technology used in the classroom. From Electric whiteboards to the use of Tablets. Nothing that can reshape the method in which we learn. However recently emerging communications in technology intertwined with traditional teaching methods to form a method called blended learning. Blended learning, maximizing the learning experience, at the heart of this methodology is the student’s ability to learn at their own pace using e-learning platforms out of class. This innovative method is set to be the future of the learning environment. It has essentially broken down the conformed walls of the classroom and made learning for students as something they can do outside the classroom.

One issue with the traditional teaching method. which is continuously brought up is the “One size fits all model”. Is blended learning breaking the traditional mold? Yes, it is.

Blended learning is a more enhancing educational experience for students. Students can access lectures, videos and all learning content on an e-learning platform. With the freedom of accessing content from anywhere on the planet students can go to classes, lectures and tutorials more prepared. Students can also learn at their own pace, and do not have to learn through this scaled measured traditional teaching method.

These platforms are a fantastic way of assessing students, with the use of interactive features such as digital quizzes and assessments. From this, teachers gain the digital habits of the students. This dynamic learning method creates an experience which is more immersive for students as interactive features are fun and exciting.

Where is blended learning apparent?

Bournemouth University like any other University in the UK uses blended learning and e-learning platforms. Media and Communication students at Bournemouth use a platform called Brightspace. Brightspace is fundamental for obtaining all lectures, submission briefs, grades, feedback, reading content. “I couldn’t imagine learning without it, I look at it every day”. said Ethan Brooke a media communications student at Bournemouth University.

Now we know how the students are benefiting from blended learning but what about the teachers?

Blended learning is playing a massive part in changing the role of the teacher. Teachers no longer have to be passive speakers. In this e-learning environment, students are able to learn some content prior to their lecture or class. This allows teachers to go into more detail and conceptualize topics more. There isn’t a rush to go through the syllables. Teachers are able to focus on the more important elements, especially in higher education where creating arguments is essential for learning.

Does blended learning hold the future for education, Is this digital communication perfect?

The answer is no, like all technological innovations there are always issues and challenges which appear in the present and may occur in the future. Facilitating technological change is one. This goes beyond upgrading software to facilitate the e-learning format. It lies deeper, with technological change comes a range of obstacles which learning institutions must go through. One is staffing, someone or people are needed to maintain this learning format if there are any crashes or issues. In schools with a lack of funding, prioritizing IT staff may not people the schools biggest concerning. IT staff are essential for maintaining digital platforms.

Teachers must be able to adapt their skills or learn the adequate IT skills in order to maximize the learning benefits of blended learning this may mean stepping out of their comfort zone and expanding their professional development. This may be an issue for older teachers, who may not see this role in their job description, as they have not grown up in this ever-increased digital world.

What lies ahead?

The main challenge for the future is getting the balance right, technological innovation is all very well but a constant influx of new technology won’t help education. Blended learning is effective because it is balanced and carefully thought through. Institutions should always use the components of teaching that are essential for classroom learning and face-to-face interaction. However digital platforms now and in the future will help learning institutions maximize student learning.