The need to digitise the teaching and learning experience has been around for decades. In fact it has been reality for some time and has only been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In many parts of the world, learning online became mainstream with the emergence of Covid. Teachers are now familiar with words like eLearning, flipped classrooms, hybrid learning and others.
The terms might be many and sometimes confusing but one thing that can’t be missed is that they all have the concept of place or distance, and the use of technology. Blended learning can therefore be termed as a style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching. Blended learning is an approach to learning that combines face-to-face and online learning experiences. Ideally, each will complement the other by using its particular strength.
Common tools in blended learning
When schools in Uganda were closed in efforts to counter the spread of Covid-19, many schools resorted to a variety of tools to keep learners engaged. In this case, it was learning purely online. However, it can be agreed that these online lessons were done to complement the physical classes that were previously relied on.
Common among the tools uses were Zoom, Google’s meet and Microsoft Teams. These were used to hold virtual classes where the teachers used laptops, tabs and phones to engage with learners remotely. Some schools went further and implemented Lesson Management Systems like Moodle to give learners a more course centric approach. Google classroom was also a popular choice for schools. One good thing with Classroom was that it enabled assessment and grading of learners while getting feedback from either party.
The future of blended learning in Uganda
While learning largely went online for a good number of urban schools during the pandemic, it is yet to be seen whether these same schools will now integrate both physical and virtual lessons after the pandemic. One thing about blended learning is that it helps in increasing students’ comprehension and engagement.
It is therefore necessary that even when the pandemic is behind us, schools should now look at giving learners a richer learning experience by leveraging the advantages of both worlds. Some schools like Trinity College Nabbingo, Nabisunsa Girls School and Mengo Senior School are among the few that have integrated eLearning into their websites. This is an indication that even when Covid-19 is no more, learners are to benefit from the mix of physical and virtual lessons.
What could limit the adoption of blended learning?
Even with it’s advantages, adoption may still have a long way to go. The current crop of teachers is not proficient in the use of education technology in teaching and learning. This could be because they went through the education system at a time when digital tools were not a common thing. There is always a curve to go through when learning new concepts and yet teachers are so busy trying to go about their duties.
The available technologies are also a bit expensive fro the average school and teacher. For example, an average laptop could be almost 4 times the price of a teachers monthly salary. This leaves the burden of purchasing these tools to the schools which is also another weight on them.
How can teachers fit in the blended learning environment?
With the future of education pointing towards blended learning, every teacher ought to get used to the tools and practices that define it. For schools supported by Edify Uganda, there have been several training sessions for them during the lockdown and more are being planned to cover areas outside Kampala.
For teachers who need s deeper understanding in the practice of EdTech and all that goes with it, a comprehensive Teachers Certificate in Digital Pedagogy has been organised by E-zone School of Computing with the first cohort starting on 14th February 2022. The 14 week virtual course will make teachers practically proficient in education technologies with the expertise to manage a school’s elearning program in it’s entirety with ease.
Registration for this heavily subsidized course has started and can be done on the school website or by clicking on the image below.