Learning is the cognitive process of acquiring skills or knowledge. It is vital and inevitable as everyone is born a poor fish, gaining knowledge from associates with time during growth. The various methods of learning are thus significant. Back in the days, learning was face-to-face, with minimal or no use of the internet. This has however changed, thanks to the great innovators who pioneered the introduction of digital learning platforms. Assertion of skills can now be effectively accomplished with the combination of seat time teaching and use of digital sources: hybrid or blended learning. This is the pedagogical approach that includes seat time instruction with computer-mediated instruction.
The face-to-face model is one of the most fascinating blending methods, and the closest to a typical school structure. The face-to-face model helps struggling students to continue studying at their own progressive pace by using technology. Technology is greatly used together with traditional teaching to help improve the outcome in education. Through this model, lecturers can assign work to the students through a digital platform and supervise on their progress often in a classroom or a laboratory. Students with either below or above grade level are greatly advantaged by use of this digital tool as it helps improve their understanding and also avoid retention through the educational course. ("6 Types of Blended Learning")
Rotation Model on the other hand allows students to rotate between fixed schedules and may either work online or through face-to-face instruction. Students mostly rotate around online learning, small group instructions and writing assignments. The rotation can be based on a lecturer’s discretion or on a fixed schedule. This helps students to receive various differentiated experiences and therefore outperforming students receiving one type of instruction. There are various sub models in rotation model including: Station rotation model, lab rotation model, flipped classroom model and individual rotation model.
Flex is another significant model used in schools to support a large number of students who are struggling or at-risk in education. It helps improves on online content delivery since students spend most of their time receiving individualized instructions from lecturers, the adaptive software and online resources. Lecturers can also provide small group instructions to students using the software while maintaining classes. This model offers students flexible learning environments where they are free to arrive and part the class according to the designated schedule.
Through an Online Lab model, courses are taught entirely online often in labs with the supervision of a professional not necessarily a lecturer. It accommodates students who have to work at an adjusted pace. This model also supports students wishing to undertake a specific course which is not offered at their current school. This model also helps offer educational services to schools that have minimal lecturers and also offer courses which they have no qualified lecturers to teach. Online lab model is not very effective in schools with not enough computer labs since most of the work is done online. . ("6 Types of Blended Learning")
The Self-Blend model helps self-driven and gifted students wishing to undertake certain courses beyond what is already offered at their current school site. These students continue with the traditional face-to-face classes while still supplementing their learning through online courses offered by other schools. This model also offers students freedom to supplement what they have learned and what they have been taught in the traditional face-to-face learning.
The Online Driver allows students to work remotely and courses materials are delivered through an online platform. This model is a great advantage to students who require more flexibility and independence in their daily routine. Face-to-face instructions are not necessary although students can engage lecturers online if they have questions. The Online Driver Model creates differentiation in education since each student in a classroom can attain different knowledge while studying at different levels.
Improved time management is one of the major advantages posed by blended learning. With the assimilation of online learning, the course outline and notes are at the student’s disposal, thus learning does not stop when the students leave the class. They can revisit the topics covered in class at their own convenience, hence completing the coursework in time or meeting the week’s deadlines. They can also engross themselves in online discussions, which can take place at any time, contrary to traditional learning where students must meet up for a discussion.
Equality is the other major advantage realized by the institutions that utilize blended learning. During real time learning, the most extroverted students may dominate the learning process, shunning away the views of the introverts, who barely participate in the conversation. There is less sharing of views and ideas. Online discussions favour all, including the less forceful personalities. The platform gives an equal opportunity to each student to give a thoughtful response.
Face-to-face instruction and online learning working hand in hand provides the students with a customized learning experience with personalized feedback. If the students are struggling with a particular topic, they can access supplementary material online, engage in discussions where they help each other out or get assistance from the lecturer. They can also indulge in online multimedia activities to cater for their performance goals.
The prime benefit in assimilating the online learning platform is cost savings. The cost incurred in travelling to and from school is reduced. The number of in-class sittings is reduced thence minimal travelling expenses. Lecturers provide the notes online for the general scope of the course. The students are therefore exempted from photocopying notes expenses and costs incurred in purchasing textbooks.
Hybrid learning removes location and time limitations. Students can engage in discussions at any time of the day, regardless of their location. This improves their learning as they help each other out even in the absence of the tutor. In the incidents of national crisis such as a state of emergency, the learning process is not disrupted as it can transmission to a fully online platform, and regaining normalcy after political cool down. Blended learning can also pose a lot of disadvantages as I will discuss later. ("Blended Learning Advantages And Disadvantages In Corporate Training")
To begin with, misuse of learning technology tools can lead to wastage of resource. Lack of the required knowledge needed to operate the online platform can be a huge degradation to the available resources. Utilization of online tools that do not offer the required services may lead to misuse of resources and wastage of quality time. It’s therefore important to have a good plan before purchasing expensive tools and programs that may never promote the company’s growth. When planning, you need to come up with devices and software that will help the target group with less strain to the available funds.
Secondly, the success of the online training highly depends on the learner’s technological knowledge and their willingness to learn and interact with diverse training materials. It’s a fact that in every institution, change is not easily accepted by everyone and sometimes it tends to affect those involved negatively rather than positively. Most employees in big companies also lack the necessary skills required to work with such platforms making the training even more difficult. The institution adopting the online training also require to develop an enthusiastic community that takes the technology seriously in training and real world. The company is also needed to come up with workshops where the trainees can be introduced to the tools and software needed to get the blended learning started.
Finally, setting up of the system and maintaining the platforms is very expensive. Purchasing of the online software, tools and equipment is very expensive and mostly unaffordable to most organizations. The costs incurred are especially very expensive to the organizations that manage a large workforce or rather have several departments. The expenses incurred might be huge, but not comparable to the advantages they pose as an aftermath. The nominal fee paid monthly as a maintenance fee is also very discouraging but the many advantages posed by the systems outweighs them all. ("Blended Learning Advantages And Disadvantages In Corporate Training")
In comparison of the pros and cons, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Assimilating hybrid learning concept is a sure tool in improving the education system. Students can improve in time management, get an equal chance in sharing views during discussions, get a personalized training experience, and get a reduction in learning costs and get 24/7 access to learning tools. Schools and institutions should adopt the concept and help the various schools in achieving hybrid learning.
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