News Editor Amy Lakin looks at a UoB study that shows blended learning is as effective as face to face learning.
A study published in August 2020 entitled ‘Teacher Education Modality Rapid Review’ has found that blended learning is equally successful as conventional modes of on campus teaching.
The report was led by Dr Thomas Perry, a lecturer in Education at the University of Birmingham (UoB).
Blended learning refers to learning that is structured through a combination of online and physical teaching methods. The report broke down these methods into six categories ‘lectures, workshops and seminars, coaching and mentoring, classroom observations, resource bases, platforms and self-study programmes and virtual reality spaces.’
The research found that this form of learning enables new ways for teachers and students to work together, in aspects relating to assessment, general feedback and group work.
Dr Perry said: ‘The literature we have reviewed, suggests that remote and blended teacher education approaches show considerable promise may have distinct advantages as well as disadvantages relative to solely face-to-face approaches. At the moment the evidence base is not strong, but what we have is encouraging.’
Dr Perry notes that such research is highly relevant given the necessity of predominantly online teaching in universities due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The study advocated that video platforms such as Zoom are beneficial in their flexibility to learning, as the classroom or seminar environment can be simulated in a safe and COVID free manner.
It also acknowledged the difficulties of online learning, which include the possibility of technical failures, as well as the risks of lower student engagement and student unfamiliarity with e-learning conduct.
In response to these findings, Alex Ayres, a third year History and Politics student said: ‘I think it seems all too convenient that this study has found these findings just as the university needs to justify charging the same fees for a different product to their students.’
‘As a student, I have been told that online teaching is not as effective as in person teaching. Whilst there may be some benefits to a blend of online and in person, it has always felt like they would be outweighed by the significant negatives, not just on degree outcome but also student wellbeing, something which does not seem to be covered by this research.’
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