Blended learning closes emerging gaps between education and employment

Blended learning closes emerging gaps between education and employment

Blended learning, being considered as the new ‘traditional learning’, has created engaging and effective learning environments for students to learn and gain valuable skills for the future, sharing from RMIT Dean of Students Associate Professor Seng Kiat Kok.

Blended learning (BL) is not just a mix of uploaded documents and self-study, with little teacher engagement. It brings together face-to-face and digital learning to give students the best of both worlds. 

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'news-1-blended-learning-eng' Core elements of blended learning (Source: RMIT Vietnam Online Learning team)

Students may learn through readings, discussions, videos, interactive knowledge checks, case studies, creative and industry projects along with a range of other diverse materials and activities. The combination of teacher guided digital learning and face-to-face classes on campus allows students to interact and collaborate with their peers and teachers to enjoy a varied and meaningful learning experience.

BL is gaining popularity in schools and universities around the world. Many prestigious universities worldwide, including Harvard, MIT, University College London, University of Sydney, have long adopted BL approaches and recognised the valuable benefits it can bring.

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'news-2-blended-learning-eng' Research shows positive feedback from both academics and students who experience blended learning. (Source: RMIT Vietnam Online Learning team)

Research shows that BL consistently boosts student grades and test scores across diverse subjects. Participating in BL environments allows students to gain digital literacy skills essential for success in higher education and the modern workplace. Students report blended content as more appealing and engaging compared to traditional lectures. While promoting independent learning, blended classrooms also facilitate valuable collaboration with peers through online discussion boards and in-person group work. With blended courses, students can work through materials at their own pace. This flexibility results in higher satisfaction and a greater sense of accomplishment. Students have more control over meeting learning objectives.

In the past, teachers were the only source of information for students. Lessons centred around textbooks and blackboards, with teachers as the holders of knowledge. Students were passive recipients of their instruction. This mirrored how jobs at the time functioned – with strict hierarchies and top-down flow of information.

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'news-3-blended-learning-eng' Schools have changed overtime to mirror workplaces’ requirements. (Source: RMIT Vietnam Online Learning team)

The modern workforce has undergone significant transformation due to digital technology. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Survey 2023, the top five skills on the rise that companies are considered increasing in importance are analytical thinking, technology literacy, curiosity and lifelong learning, resilience, flexibility and adaptability, and motivation and self-management.

This model acknowledges changes in the professional world and encourages independent learning while keeping the human element intact. Combining online and in-person education mirrors how many companies now operate. The online materials are curated and customised to meet diverse needs. Face-to-face guidance builds communication, provides motivation, and gives essential feedback. This leads students to take greater ownership of their learning process and develop necessary skills for the current and future workplace.

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'news-4-blended-learning-eng' Skills on the rise (Source: RMIT Vietnam Online Learning team)

At RMIT, blended learning has been widely adopted for many years. Supported by our specialist spaces, equipment and technologies, our blended learning is accessible, inclusive and connected. We have many tools in place to make sure our students can make the most out of this model so that their transition from university into working life is a smooth one.

We have a team of learning designers partnering with academics to develop those blended courses. They incorporate proven techniques like spaced repetition and frequent low-stakes knowledge checks to reinforce online material.

The goal is not to reduce teacher time, but to use it more effectively. To inspire creativity, critical thinking and skill mastery. We want teachers to focus on high-value human connections, not just transmitting information. With BL, students can have a mix of self-paced and collaborative learning, while teachers concentrate on mentorship and providing tailored guidance.

Comparing students who had a solely traditional education, and those who have studied and engaged in a blended learning model, we found the ones without opportunities to develop digital literacy and comfort with technology through blended models will be at a disadvantage.

They miss out on developing crucial abilities like time management, self-direction, and leveraging technology to enhance learning. They also lack experience with collaboration tools essential for the modern workplace. Relying solely on passive in-class lectures reduces active student engagement which fosters deeper and more memorable learning. It also prevents them from fully benefiting from essential hands-on learning experiences. The time spent on one-way information delivery could be better utilised to nurture vital skills like critical thinking and creativity.

One of RMIT’s goals is to equip our graduates with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century, both in online and offline environments, in a professional manner. And blended learning has been a proven model which assists us to achieve such goal successfully.

Story: Ha Hoang

Credits: Content for this article has been sourced from the Blended Learning Canvas co-designed by the Online Learning team and The Business School, RMIT Vietnam.

18 January 2024


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