Face-to-face learning doesn't need replacing

It’s easy to get distracted by fancy gadgets and the convenience of online resources, but face-to-face learning is more effective.

Blended learning allows for students to spend less time in lectures and tutorials and more time completing their studies online. This could include anything from watching videos instead of attending a lecture, to doing quizzes and assignments through the school’s online portal.

Incorporating online elements into lecture-style courses has become popular over the past few years as institutions feel the pressure to accommodate to technological advances and add to the student experience.

But with blended learning on the rise in universities, we shouldn’t forget the irreplaceable merits of the physical classroom.

My first encounter with blended learning was in my first-year calculus course.

The first lecture of each the week was a review of questions from the previous week, which were only available online. In the second lecture, you could ask questions about the next week’s assigned homework and answer clicker questions. The rest of the learning was done online through one to two hours of videos, a pre-class questionnaire and a small quiz.

Not only was the in-person lecture and the professor’s presence rendered useless to many, the quizzes and pre-class questionnaires could easily be completed by copying off your peers. With no incentives for actually learning the material rather than clicking through an online quiz, many of the students went into the exam blind and did poorly. This also increased the lack of retention of the material beyond the course.                             

If the course had been structured to give students an opportunity to interact with a TA or a professor, then more students would have had the push to do better — this collaboration is an irreplaceable aspect of face-to-face learning.

Not everyone can accommodate to online learning, nor does it seamlessly replace classroom interaction, especially for  students coming directly out of high school where they spend six hours a day in school. Having a difficult course in the first year of university that consists of mostly independent learning can be detrimental to students.  

Blended learning should be a smaller part of course structure with fewer assessments online, thus encouraging students to truly learn. If continued as is, students won’t gain the knowledge or the degree they’re paying for.

Morgan is The Journal’s Assistant News Editor. She’s a second-year Applied Economics student.

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