Blended learning is one of the most used learning approaches in some countries nowadays including Australia, and it has mainly implemented in higher education. Blended learning, a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching, is believed more appropriate to be called as ‘blended teaching’ (Daniel, 2016). Despite the fact that the blended learning model has become more common throughout the world, the research on the implementation of blended learning in higher education reveals both positive and negative sides. By using Plus-Minus Interesting (PMI) approach, here are some essential discussion points.
The first positive aspect of blended learning is that it enables students to work independently on what they need to know as learning materials are available online. Moreover, the learning materials can be accessed anywhere and anytime beyond their formal classroom. The second related benefit is that students will find that this learning model is more engaging and attractive, so students are more motivated to involve in the learning circle both during the face-to-face and online meeting. Thus, it can be seen that this learning model is very relevant to what skills and knowledge that students should learn in the twenty-first century, including communication skills, independent learning, flexibility and teamwork, thinking skills, digital skills, and knowledge management (Bates, 2015, as cited in Daniel, 2016).
However, the implementation of blended learning model might be a challenge for some educational institutions because of several factors. First, for some cultural backgrounds in which learning is still more teacher-centred, students will find it difficult to build their self-discipline and motivation to learn independently in this blended environment. Whereas, online learning requires the self-directedness attitude, and the learning process should move towards the student-centred approach. Second, research also finds that low achieving students tend to be discouraged with this blended learning model because to some extent they find it difficult to adjust with the learning circle. Third, the implementation of blended learning can be a negative experience for students if it is not wisely and strategically designed
Moving onto the interesting aspects of what Daniel (2016) has written. First, some essential historical view of teaching and learning in a formal context is the key to understanding the transformation of learning and its online model in the higher education. Second, in order to design effective blended learning course, the institution should prioritise the related interactive elements, namely apprenticeship-style sessions stressing on the learning by doing and setting assignments and marking as an important teaching tool.
Finally, it is undeniable that the blended learning model is the most current approach particularly in the higher education that should be taken into account in order to facilitate students achieve the twenty-first century learning outcomes.
Daniel, J. (2017). Making sense of blended learning: Treasuring an older tradition or finding a better future. World Conference on Online Learning Teaching in the Digital Age. Toronto: Contact North