A history of learning
Formal education has a long history and it has been exposed to a variety of changes, determined by the evolution of technology, by the change of curriculums, and by the economic and social movements.
According to the research article Combining the Best of Online and Face-to-Face Learning: Hybrid and Blended Learning Approach for COVID-19, Post Vaccine, & Post-Pandemic World, “technology has changed the face of higher education”, constantly evolving, one step at a time, in accordance with the development of other socio-economic fields. Starting from the same research article, the technological evolution in education met the following steps:
- Initially, the traditional face to face learning was the sole form of education, where both the professor and the students were physically present in the classroom.
- During the 1990s, online learning started to impact the educational process, and students had the option of completing their course work asynchronously without being physically present in class. Moreover, it was seen as an economical benefit, saving a lot of resources, both in terms of time and money, but in the end it was not as efficient as predicted, because it was essentially a passive activity.
- Over the years, a new learning method has appeared, making the most of both the traditional face to face learning and the online learning, known as blended learning. According to research, this approach combines the advantages of different technologies, web-based tools and learning theories and it is way more effective than the sole use of one form or the other, offering the benefit of learning flexibility and information accessibility.
Where we are now
The blended learning approach still has lots of advantages when it comes to delivering knowledge in an academic setting, and the numbers clearly state students and teachers’ preference for this type of learning, highlighting its benefits on engagement, motivation and academic abilities.
- 60% of teachers notice blended learning improves academic ability. (source)
- Up to 82% of students choose a hybrid learning environment over a traditional one. (source)
- 59% of students are more motivated when using hybrid learning models. (source)
- Up to 73% of teachers have noticed that blended learning increases engagement. (source)
- Up to 96% of teachers think the use of technology positively impacts participation and learning. (source)
- 93% of parents consider technology to be a valuable tool in education. (source)
eLearning in academic education
So, what’s the place of eLearning in the future of education? According to eLearning Industry, “moving from static digital learning materials to personalized, interactive educational experiences, eLearning is transforming. Online learning now offers a more three-dimensional learning opportunity for students.” But how can it augment face to face classes in an academic setting?
- By enabling students to have access to learning materials beforehand, and to be able to review teaching resources at any step of the educational process.
- By implementing the learning on-to-go approach, where students have flexible access to information, bringing formal education at the same place with their social media channels and groups, at one click away.
- By fostering connectivity between students to maximise the social aspect of education. One of the key elements of learning is the social component and theories agree that social interactions and socially constructed meanings are key to learning, as people learn from and with others, building on each other’s experience and understanding, learning behaviours and skills by observing others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts have been made to move formal education to an online environment, but this social aspect of learning has been somehow neglected, which led to a lack of connectivity between students, in comparison to the one they used to have during traditional face to face classes. But, with the use of technology, collaboration can be fostered by means of communities of practice, where students can interact with one another in a way that is familiar to them.