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The effects of blended learning on students in higher education

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More and more educators have begun to notice the potential benefits of online resources on student learning outcomes. With the help of online learning materials, modern-day teaching can access a range of excellent resources that could transform traditional classroom learning.

Many organizations are looking into a blended learning approach for students, integrating online resources with face-to-face teaching. As a new approach to teaching and learning, many organizations are only just starting to understand the benefits of blended learning. This article will look into the effects of blended learning on students within higher education.

What is blended learning?

Put simply, blended learning is a learning approach that combines interactive online resources with traditional, in-person education. In higher education, this new learning environment has led to the emergence of webinars and e-learning methods.

In higher education, blended learning has had a recent surge in popularity, with lecture theatres and classrooms closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, organizations implemented online learning facilities but are now looking to return with a hybrid approach such as blended learning to allow students to study both on and off campus.

For a blended learning approach to work properly and to get the best learning outcomes, both online learning and teacher-led learning must work together to create a consistent learner experience.

Speaker giving lecture

Effects of blended learning on students

While blended learning may offer a temporary solution as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease and students start returning to campus to complete their course, it also provides a number of benefits as a long-term solution. Blended learning can have both positive and negative effects for a learner within higher education, both of which should be considered when looking to implement a blended learning approach.

Positive effects for students

Increased student engagement

A blended learning method can make it easier for some students to engage and study at their own pace. This learning style allows students who struggle to stay engaged during in-person teaching to engage with their studies in their own time, at their own pace without the need for a teacher.

Increase student achievement

For those students who do experience increased engagement and motivation with blended learning, their achievements will likely increase too. When students are engaged with learning, they have higher chances of retaining information, understanding topics and working towards assignments and exams – this will all be reflected in their final grades for the course.

Students learn at their own pace

The beauty of a blended learning environment is that they allow students to move through tasks and learning modules at their own pace. This is incredibly helpful for students who have a slightly different learning style or may work slightly slower than others and feel rushed during in-person teaching sessions.

Classroom time can be focused on more meaningful activities

In a blended learning environment, students are able to complete tasks online or watch lectures in their own time which means that classroom time can be freed up for more interactive, instruction-focused lessons. This will make much better use of valuable face-to-face teaching sessions.

Enhanced student experience

With the help of technology, blended learning opens doors for students to be able to access professional resources, research archives and even connect with professionals in their field of study, which will help to enhance their learning experience.

Improved accessibility and inclusion

One of the biggest dilemmas faced by higher education organizations is creating an environment that all students can fully access, no matter their abilities, lifestyle, location or course.

Online resources included in a blended learning approach to learning can be accessed from anywhere in the world with a device and wi-fi connection so not student is limited to what they can access throughout their course.

Ownership of learning

To successfully commit to blended learning, students must organize their studies and interact with online materials on their own terms. This allows students in higher education to take ownership of their learning without constant instruction from an educator.

Student conducting remote learning

Flexibility in scheduling

With the ability to access online resources at any time, students are provided with more flexible scheduling that can fit around their lives. With this approach to learning, students will no longer have to sacrifice their education to work in a part-time job or socialize.

Negative effects of blended learning on students

Whilst blended learning offers a number of positive benefits for students, there are also a few negative effects to consider.

Success depends on student’s successful completion of online work

Some students may not have the self-motivation or organization required to complete online tasks successfully. For those students who do not commit to the self-led part of blended learning, grades and academic achievement may fall.

Success relies on access to technology

When implementing a blended learning approach, it’s important to consider the students who may not have access to the appropriate technology which can put them at a huge disadvantage when compared to other students. This is something that organizations should consider and should have a solution in place.

Loss of community

One of the main reasons (aside from getting a degree) students go to university to make friends, join societies and feel part of a community. With heightened online learning, this sense of community is reduced, and some students may experience loneliness whilst in higher education.

Connectivity and bandwidth can have a negative impact on student experience

All students who have taken part in an online lecture or webinar will know the feeling of frustration when a class is underway, and the internet connection decides to break down. Poor connectivity during online learning could be a significant cause of problems for blended learning and may cause some students to miss out on important information during live-streamed events, having an impact on academic achievement.

How to ease the effects of blended learning on students

Students working in classroom

The use of effective technology is key to providing a valuable learning environment through blended learning and to aid successful academic achievement in students. Organizations can improve the delivery of blended learning by investing in the correct tools, such as AppsAnywhere. This tool enables the resources, software and apps required by students to be delivered to any device, anywhere and anytime. This is a great way to enhance the student IT experience and improve how blended learning is accessed within higher education.

Solutions such as Virtual Labs also allow students to access campus computers without having to sit in a computer lab. This is particularly useful for students who need access to more specialist software.

These are just a few examples of the solutions available to enable blended learning within higher education. Please contact our team to find out more about the solutions available.