If you think blended learning is a great idea, here’s why you’re wrong
No, blended learning isn’t as cool as it sounds
A simple browse of the student voice network that is UCLove can tell you a lot – including the hot debate surrounding the prospect of blended learning.
To some students, this design appears to be a progressive and exciting taste of the conventional university life mixed with the immensely popular radio silence of online learning.
Sarcasm aside, blended learning looks great on paper, but the reality of the matter is very different. So, to those claiming that this style of learning great, here are five reasons why you’re wrong:
1. The online aspect impacts mental health negatively
It is an obvious fact that online teaching has majorly affected students’ mental health, with the Tab extensively discussing and researching this in the past. Online learning incites a reduction in physical activity levels, social interactions and self-worth.
Even with the integrated amount of face-to-face teaching that blended learning has promised, it’s not enough to really stimulate students again. We’re still presented with major uncertainty about the future of our degrees, impacting mental health further.
We’ve all had to endure anxiety over the past year with the isolation and uncertainty about our futures that online learning has caused, so surely this amplified stress should be a priority. Why is blended learning still going ahead if students’ mental health is actually being considered by universities, like they say?
2. Restrictions are easing
Even though the long-awaited 21st June is now in fact 19th July (sad times), restrictions are easing in most places. Although aware of this, universities are still continuing the blended learning approach.
This limits students’ freedom and pretty much stops sports nights and uni club nights in their tracks. Yes, they’re usually the most trashy, VK-induced things to exist, but these experiences are an integral and memorable component of university life, with the potential to socialise and shape characters.
The truth is that the easing of restrictions paves the way for exciting prospects; blended learning does the opposite.
3. Fee costs for international students
Many universities are known for their excellent resources, teaching abilities and expert guidance. That is, when students are actually at the university to utilise these opportunities. With the prospect of blended learning, there is an increased concern amongst students about the fixed fees that will not reflect half of their learning being online.
International students already have to pay around £31,000 to be able to study at a university in the UK, which is more than the average starting salary. More importantly, if blended learning does indeed go ahead, what exactly are these international students paying for?
There are multiple international students who have suggested that it is unfair for UK students to pay far less for their course than international students, even when they are in the same situation: studying their course online. Both international and UK students are exposed to the same reduction in facilities, so why should it be any different?
4. Moving in to stay inside
For many students, there is concern over the financial aspect of university accommodation. It is a well-known fact that university housing is very expensive even under “normal” conditions.
The blended approach causes more anxiety for students, as many do not want to pay for accommodation when they are uncertain that they will even be needing it next year. In this case, it is clear that the negatives of accommodation during the period of blended learning definitely outweigh the benefits.
It highlights a question which we have continually asked throughout this year and will definitely ask in the future: Will students receive any form of repayment if their rooms are vacant due to circumstances out of their control?
5. Ineffective feedback
Blended learning leaves students feeling frustrated over the inability to connect with course content as a result of inefficient and vague feedback from tutors. If we’re always switching from in-person to online, how can we get a cohesive idea of what we’re studying and the support we need?
Without strong guidance and teaching, students will struggle understanding what they’re meant to be learning and not know how to go about asking for help, creating a vicious cycle of not being in control of a degree you’re paying for.
There is a dire need for in-person learning to start again fully, especially considering the amount of freedoms the government will give us by the time uni starts again. It makes no sense.
After all, universities, and more specifically UCL, encourage the support of emotional, physical and psychological wellbeing of students, so why aren’t they looking to support mental health in this case? It’s important to see the damage that blended learning might do.