Blended Learning – A Turning Point for Education

In Singapore, home-based learning has now become mandatory and a part of the new curriculum this year. 

The government has launched blended learning for the secondary school, junior school, and Millennia Institute students for the third term this year. In blended learning, the home-based and in-school approaches are mixed, giving students a schedule with online classes and in-school activities. These in-school classes and activities will be once or twice a week, and the rest of the classes will be online. 

For the primary school, the government will take a more calibrated approach by conducting a small-scale pilot test with five primary schools to understand the impact of blended learning on younger children. 

And for the parents, these new changes in their children’s learning certainly have their pros and cons. However, they need to accept and consider these since the pandemic is still out there, and blended learning is the safest approach for their children to continue their studies. 

 

The question is, will blended learning be the new norm of education? 

Is Blended Learning Sufficient?

Many experts say that blended learning is sufficient, especially now that it is becoming harder to predict whether regular classes can resume without any problems. With the pandemic persisting despite the vaccine roll-out, there must be a stable education system set to ensure that students will continue to learn and study despite these setbacks.

Blended learning allows continuous learning because students can study through online classes while having some in-school classes in between. Also, they will eventually have the chance to go back to school once everything normalises. 

But, even after this pandemic is over, blended learning will still be the future of education. The healthy blend of digitalised and traditional classroom-based lessons can provide a well-rounded and conducive learning environment for students. Also, this type of learning will enable students to become more independent learners.

How Can Blended Learning Meet the Needs of Students?

Some students may find it hard to rely heavily on home-based learning sessions, especially for difficult concepts taught in subjects like math or science. Other school subjects will also require practical demonstrations that need face-to-face interactions, such as science and physical education.

With blended learning, students can study the concepts at home and list down their questions for their teachers. They can then discuss it all together during the in-school classes. Blended learning will also allow teachers to focus and target their teaching on the areas that require an in-depth understanding rather than covering the entire concept. 

The Positive Side of Blended Learning

Besides allowing teachers to do targeted teaching, there are other positive sides that parents may not be aware of regarding this learning method. Here are some of the positive points of blended learning:

  • Opens Opportunities for Students to Explore Their Interests

Besides enabling students to keep up with their academic requirements, blended learning allows students to have more time and opportunities to explore their other interests while doing home-based learning. For instance, they can try reading new books or experimenting on things they want to try out.

  •    Enables Students to Become Self-Learners 

Transforming students to become self-learners is one of the goals of this blended learning. Students can use the opportunities provided by blended learning to develop the right skills to pursue the interests they have during their home-based learning days. The school will then provide various activities that showcase these interests, and students can develop them more in their spare time.

With home-based learning, students are encouraged to be more disciplined as self-learning can help hone students to become responsible for achieving their own study goals. It can also help them effectively manage their own time and find a balance between play and revision.

 

  • Teachers Students to Take the Initiatives in Group Tasks

Teachers said that blended learning can help students to initiate and organise themselves into groups and learn to work together in teams. 

Some students tend to find working in groups intimidating because they tend to become shy and withdrawn. Others may find it hard to contribute because of the different personalities present in the group. 

However, without having to deal face-to-face with other students during online learning, students will be able to focus better and find a way to contribute without feeling shy or withdrawn in the process. It will also allow them to step up to be leaders and delegate tasks to their peers in a group project.

 

  • Ensures Students Still Experience Human and Emotional Connection from Their Teachers and Peers

It is undeniable that online learning alone has setbacks in building an emotional connection between teachers and students. There will always be a physical barrier between them since they are not interacting face-to-face. Teachers will also have difficulty in determining if a student is having problems as they cannot see their students’ body language nor facial expressions from the screen.

The positive side of blended learning is that there is still an opportunity for students and teachers to have an emotional connection and physical interaction. As the classes will not be solely online, students and teachers will be able to meet regularly in between online classes.

 

  • Keeps Students Studying Despite Natural Disasters and Other Events

Blended learning can be a form of contingency plan for the education system as it ensures that students will not have to worry about their classes from being interrupted. If there are events hindering students from going to school, like national events, transportation problems or a pandemic, students can easily shift to online learning without any problem. They could then return to in-school learning once everything is back to normal.

 

  • Lesser Commute Time 

With blended learning, children will also spend lesser time commuting between home and school. For example, if a student is staying in Paris Ris but studying at NTU, it will take an hour to travel as the university is on the other end of Singapore. This travel time can be more useful for other things, such as revising lessons or exploring new hobbies. 

Future of Education is in Blended Learning

The pandemic has changed a lot of things and how things are done, especially in education. This blended learning will definitely be here to stay, and both parents and students need to embrace and accept this new setup. And the sooner they do it, the faster can students adapt and start anew with this innovative way of learning.