The top three industries facing a shortage of skilled workforce in the UK today are education, financial services, and digital work. This has grown over the past years and, as a result, has created a significant opportunity for educational institutions across the UK.
Blended learning is proving to be an effective tool to tap into this opportunity.
Blended learning is the optimal blend of online and on-campus learning. It is an opportunity for institutions to fill in the gap by offering the best of both worlds. However, since different learning scenarios’ requirements vary significantly, creating the optimum experience means understanding the unique mix of online and on-campus learning tools.
The key to a successful blended learning system is how facets of online and on-campus are amalgamated.
While educational institutions and training organisations experiment with blended learning options, a few patterns are emerging.
Financial services. Blend Online: On-Campus= 3:2
Finance related subjects are proving to be very conducive for teaching online. However, to facilitate deep learning, it needs to be complemented with face-to-face interactions and discussions.
Enriched Virtual blended learning – In this model, the student learns theory primarily online but completes assignments and discussions on-campus. This creates more significant opportunities for meaningful teacher-student interactions.
Mastery-Based blended learning- In this model, students use online or on-campus resources depending on their mastery level. Students with lower mastery levels need more attention, attend on-campus classes, and those with higher mastery learn at their own pace online.
Secondary Education. Blend Online: On-Campus= 1:4
Teaching at the secondary level requires a high degree of interpersonal skills, empathy, and subject mastery, combined with increased interactivity. As such, methodologies here tend to be skewed heavily towards on-campus teaching –
Supplementary blended learning – Most lessons are on-campus, with online content being used to deliver supplemental lessons. Social and economic realities have made it harder for students to gather in a single location consistently. Supplementary Blended Learning helps by making sure that no one is left out of the learning experience.
Software Engineering. Blend Online: On-Campus= 4:1
While software engineering can be taught through online tools to a great degree, there is a level of interaction and collaboration essential. This is especially true of projects.
Project-Based blended learning – In this model, learners collaborate on projects using face-to-face interactions with the instructor and digital resources. The model emphasises self-directed learning but also encourages interaction.
Online Directed blended learning – This model of blended learning emphasises the online component above all else. The student primarily learns through online classes and prerecorded lessons. The instructors act more as facilitators, checking in periodically and being available if they have queries or doubts.
Finding the right balance will require deep domain expertise, understanding students’ priorities, and a robust, yet agile tech infrastructure. Finding the right technology partner who can support tech-enabled platforms, process expertise, and industry expertise will be crucial for education institutes to thrive in today’s fast-evolving environment.