It is safe to say teachers and students experienced a significant academic shift during the COVID-19 Pandemic that still lingers today: the move to blended learning. Teachers had to adapt to a relatively new method of teaching (for some teachers) while students had to adjust to a different way of learning work that was normally taught in a classroom.
For teachers, blended learning required educators to assume different roles that deviated from the traditional instructor-led approach. Teachers discovered they were transformed in to coaches, promoters, and “managers” of student learning. And, at the same time, teachers may have noticed that blended learning tended to minimize lecture (teaching) time and allowed students to establish their own learning pace.
Also, the learning role of students changed from merely sitting in traditional classroom lectures to a more active role in which students were no longer passive listeners but became partners (with teachers) in their own academic learning. In a sense, blended learning allowed students to have a minimal amount of “control over when, how and where they learned” as students used technology to perform schoolwork (Raise Your Hands Texas).
Surprisingly, for those who were novice in this unique form of teaching, blended learning (that used online learning, technology, and traditional schooling) has shown it is the learning method that is here to stay to meet the learning needs of students. According to Raise Your Hands Texas (a non-profit supporter of education), "blended learning provided the following for teachers and students if performed well":
Supported teachers by allowing them to spend more time partnering with students to differentiate learning that met the needs of students
Personalized learning and allowed students to have flexibility, set the pace of learning, and allowed students to choose the path of learning that worked best for them (e.g. one-on-one or collaboratively)
Offered a choice of learning formats in which teachers had flexibility to decide to work with students one-on-one, in small group, or with a whole class
Enabled students’ ownership of learning and in taking responsibility for their learning
Aligned students’ personal interests with their learning to make learning more engaging and relevant for students
Even though blended learning has been shown to have advantages, it would be wrong not to mention maybe 2 or 3 challenges. Although blended learning empowered and enabled students to take ownership of their learning, students’ participation in blended learning required students to have access to technology and to internet that was simply not readily available to students for financial reasons. And, as for teachers, a challenge that teachers encountered was their comfort levels in moving from performing traditional lectures in classrooms to integrating technology in students’ learning and in teachers’ lesson plans. Oh, and by the way, teachers were challenged when navigating new unfamiliar learning platforms too.
Nonetheless, as with everything, the concept of blended learning has been and shall continue to be controversial. However, one truth that we all might agree on (in light of the pandemic) is blended learning shall continue to be a teaching method used to meet students' learning needs in the foreseeable future.
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts below in the comment section.