Learning has continued to vary across UK schools, with the bulk of institutions settling with blended learning.
As it suggests, this model involves technology being embedded or blended into lesson structure alongside more traditional teaching. This breaks the ‘one size fits all’ model by giving students the chance to learn independently, freeing up more time for discussions, and supporting different styles of learning. Blended learning is not simply about replacing a day in school with a day at home, but rather the thoughtful application of technology inside and outside the classroom to make teaching far more engaging.
A staggering 96% of teachers report that technology has a positive impact on the way children participate and learn. In addition, more than three-quarters of students agree that, despite the relevance of post Covid technology, in-person teaching is still important. Reverting to the traditional classroom-only approach would be wasting the momentum that has picked up over the past two years, and as such we are in a prime position to interrogate whether we are currently optimising the use of technology in classrooms to provide better learning outcomes for students. Using these lessons, we must examine what the long-term blended learning model should look like and how we can best leverage technology to ensure the classroom of the future is inclusive for everyone.
Heeding the Lessons Learned
Education has always been a conduit to prosperity and opportunity. It is therefore critical that, as our approach to teaching evolves and becomes more digital, its value and accessibility improves, rather than diminishes. Research has shown that online learning is effective only if students have reliable access to the internet and computers, and if teachers have received adequate training and support. The truth of this sentiment was clear in a global survey of teachers in high-poverty schools who found virtual classes to be ineffective during the pandemic, rating them 3.5 out of 10. With blended learning, teachers report higher levels of engagement and an overall increase in motivation.
While the onset of COVID-19 demanded fast, if imperfect, solutions, the point we’re at today demands the opposite. Leaders in education, technology, public policy and more must be diligent as they collaborate to architect and standardize thoughtful tools and systems that will define the next era of education.