‘Blended learning’ limited by adaptability and relevancy.

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A new method called “blended learning” flips the traditional university classroom experience for the professor and student. It introduces online components offered prior to in-class time including lectures, videos, quizzes and other material. Within this system, students work on understanding material before class and address problems with the material in class. If students are acquainted with the material, professors, in theory, have a better gauge on which students need help and what exactly they need help with.

Despite the appeal of a learning environment that directly addresses student content concerns, there are problems with a format that only applies to a small group of courses. In upper year classes and seminars where the lines are blurred between lecture, discussion, presentations and group work, introducing blended learning will be complex and maybe redundant.

Another issue is blended learning puts increased responsibility on the student. There is nothing wrong with putting onus on students but when the success and functionality of class time depends on it, professors and students may be worse off.

Professors may not sign on for an experiment when their current structures, at least in their mind, are working. Moreover, preparing everything prior to class and turning lecture into a tutorial-like atmosphere will not go over well with many academics.

With an emphasis on online components, blended learning can make a course feel like it’s being taken online. Current online classes have students learn, study and assess their skills online and attend office hours for further clarity. Blended learning seems quite similar, albeit on a larger scale. If students are avoiding online classes only to take an in-person class heavy on online learning, those students could become disenfranchised with the system. In turn, the in-class component of blended learning would suffer immensely.

The intentions of blended learning, an  increased teaching component and a focus on addressing student concerns directly, would be a welcome addition to the traditional structure. However, forcing a wholesale replacement to the traditional structure may not be in the best interest of students or professors.

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