Whereas blended learning is a new aspect in education, a number of institutions and students themselves have quickly embraced it.
Blended learning is a type of education that combines traditional/face-to-face learning and that of online.
The combination of these teaching methods (traditional classroom and online learning) facilitates learners to reach their full potential, since different students prefer different learning styles.
According to Stanley Mukasa, a Kigali-based educator, this form of learning is an approach to education that avails opportunities for interaction since it combines online education and traditional place-based classroom methods.
He says this kind of learning requires the physical presence of both the teacher and student, with some elements of students having control over time and the place of interaction as well.
This kind of learning involves a thorough understanding of the nature of learners and the technology available to support online learning, he says.
How is this relevant?
Mukasa says blended learning personalises students’ learning experiences.
He explains that this is so because there are students who don’t do well with a face-to-face environment, but would thrive better in an online environment.
“It basically helps such students have an opportunity to learn in ways that are interesting and suit them well. Besides, it also allows flexibility on both the learners and educators side,” he says.
He explains that this is because with the face-to-face or traditional learning environment, one has to come in for a specific time, but for online learning, they can always catch up with everything at any given time.
Mathias Nkeeto, a mathematics teacher at Green Hills Academy, says blended learning allows students to study in their preferred settings and these can include home, school or even work, for those who juggle study and work.
On the other hand, he says this kind of learning can also help institutions or schools reach out to a very big number of students in the shortest period of time, something that wouldn’t be possible with traditional learning.
He also believes that it reduces costs in terms of people that have to be hired to run the programme.
“For blended learning, depending on the nature of students an educator has, for instance, if students know the reason as to why they are studying, they would strive to take it upon themselves to embrace the programme, thus better results at the end of the day,” he says.
Another important aspect when it comes to blended learning, Mukasa says, is technology integration; this, he says, is very important when it comes to making sure students access the materials whenever they need to learn.
He says students learn differently and that with such an environment, some would have an option of choosing different ways of learning that they can understand easily.
Nkeeto says when it comes to blended learning; it helps break down the traditional ways of teaching, ones that don’t work for all students.
“With access to present day technologies and resources, teachers can tailor the learning experience for the student. The idea is that computer-mediated instruction is added to, or combined with, more personal face-to-face instruction,” he notes.
This, according to him, allows learners to have more control over the learning process, choosing the time or the place where effective learning can take place.
With blended learning, Donald Munyeshuri, an IT teacher at Lycée De Kigali, says educators can provide learners with instant access to learning materials whenever they need them.
He says this is because blended learning relies partly on technology, and all the learning materials are accessible online.
Due to that ease of access, learners can study at their own pace and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills in a way that best fits their individual learning styles.
“It’s much more efficient because learners can get more done in less time, so they can complete their education or training programmes more quickly. More importantly, they can complete them more effectively because self-paced learning takes the stress out of the equation,” he says.
Apart from that, Munyeshuri says it offers ample time when one needs access to training. With most digital assets, all that is needed is a connection to the internet, meaning that time and location limitations are a thing of the past, he adds.
Mukasa notes that blended learning also helps prepare students for the future.
He explains that technology skills are important for learners’ success in school and in life going by the increasingly competitive world people are living in.