Since the start of coronavirus and with a pandemic in our midst, we have constantly been becoming more aware of the presence of online learning and the use of technology to practice social distancing. As more schools are conducting online classes, educational institutions are depending on these types of methods to help them get through times of uncertainty.
Now, with people trying to adopt the new normal, many schools and other education institutes are gathering methods to ready their students for the year or semesters. There has been constant talk about adopting a blended learning style in dealing with the new normal, so will this be it? Are we forced to live in a world where blended learning is the new normal?
Let us back up a little, for those that are unaware, let us define what people mean by blended learning first of all.
Understanding the blended learning sector
Blended learning is essentially a method of learning that combines both the classroom (face-to-face teaching) and online learning. This type of method is also commonly known as hybrid learning, any way you call it, the idea of such a concept combines two different platforms – the traditional and the modern.
Such a method seems to be the perfect option in a time where face-to-face interaction is greatly limited. It is also important to remember that blended learning was already quite a huge thing even before the coronavirus started. So, expanding this move seems to be a good option that is quite manageable.
According to Businesswire, the corporate blended learning market was expected to grow by USD 23.74 billion from 2020 to 2024. This number has surely increased since the rise of COVID-19. In fact, many institutions, if not most, such as universities, are trying to adopt a blended learning style of teaching their students, with stricter rules, of course. Since most universities have been implementing a hybrid style in the first place, it has become the first option when trying to pursue a new normal.
Blended learning definitely has been known to help the education sector in transferring knowledge. It creates greater accessibility for those looking to learn while still providing opportunities for direct contact with teachers, but will it really be the new normal?
The future of education
The role of technology in education has become a very common thing, during or before COVID-19. The concept of blended learning itself is nothing new, it has been something many institutions have adopted for years now, but the rise of a new normal is putting more pressures on this industry as it functions as the best option to support current circumstances.
This may be due to the range of benefits that a blended learning system provides, which you may see below:
|Source: Elearning Industry|
So, with all this talk of blended learning, what can we expect for the months ahead?
A rise of LMS
LMS or Learning Management Systems will be a great tool to support the blended learning process. With a market expected to exceed more than USD 23.74 billion by 2024, we are probably going to witness more institutions utilizing such software to help in running a smooth learning process. The thing is with LMS is that it comes with a bunch of tools to organize the overall teaching experience, from admissions and grading to exams and reporting, all available through an electronic platform.
Having everything documented and presented digitally will not only help the online learning process but also support a face-to-face interaction within the blended learning spectrum. With the help of tools like LMS, it will embrace a form of efficient learning hybridity.
As blended learning is expanding, so are its methods. We are more likely to see greater collaboration in terms of methods, especially with all this uncertainty. It is the time to embrace flexibility and adaptability, taking advantage of software that will easily integrate and connect with other software and sectors. We will be sure to see the use of an integrated LMS, one that can support other third-party systems and relevant systems, like financial for example, in terms of handling tuition fees.
Methods like e-meetings, webinars, virtual sessions, and discussion boards will also play a major role in teaching. Activities that will combine in-class and virtual sessions will be an important approach to adopting a new normal.
While we are on the topic of flexibility, school and education systems will most likely start pushing for more diversity in terms of the way they teach and handle the overall workflow. That said, due to the different work process and target market each school or institution serve, we are witnessing some of the most diverse times in terms of teaching and running educational institutions. Seeing how each school is different, this new normal is embracing greater customization for institutes.
Based on the vision, mission, work progress, demographic, and overall environment of educational institutions, these institutions will adopt personalized teaching and learning styles that suit them, especially in a time where changes are embraced. Different styles will also mean different methods of blended learning, which is why, as mentioned, integration and a collaborative style will be particularly important in achieving the best results for specific schools’ goals.
Dependency on training
As everything is still new and in the trial and error phase, schools and other educational institutes will have to depend on a lot of training. Hiring specialists that work on digitalization and blended learning will most probably be an option, especially within the first few weeks. We need to remember that this change is not only new for the students but also the teachers, and in order to make it work, both sides would need to feel comfortable, and having people to help achieve that goal is going to do some good.
We are all still learning here and receiving training on new learning and teaching methods will be crucial in order to create a conducive environment for the students. It is always smart to have a trial group to test these methods before the beginning of the new term; experiment with what works and doesn’t work, something we are most probably going to see most schools implementing. A successful blended learning style will always depend on good planning.
So, as we sway into the world of a new normal, the education sector has its work cut out for them, but thanks to technology, methods like blended learning can really help create greater efficiency, as long one knows what to expect and plan ahead.
For more information about blended learning tools, such as LMS, check out ESKADENIA’s range of Education software.