4 challenges of blended learning for students
Virtual learning, in-person education, or a combination of both? Most educational institutions right now are choosing the latter: blended learning. In certain circumstances where it is safe and convenient, students will be able to visit campus. When it is unnecessary to be on campus, virtual learning will be the option of choice. This will ensure the health and safety of students and staff. But what is the impact on students? We explore 4 challenges students will face due to blended learning.
1. Institutional Information
Educational institutions have many channels at their disposal, which they use to communicate with students. Course materials are often shared through a virtual learning environment, general information is shared through the website and social media, and practical information about their studies are shared through intranet. For students, this is far from ideal. The NSE (Dutch National Student Survey) results suggset that only 41% of all students are satisfied with the information provided by their institution.
In some cases, institutions have combined these channels, for instance through a campus app or student app. Those institutions that have, have listened to their students. 69% of all students indicate they want to receive all information from their institution via their smartphone. When students do not have a centralised source of information, it will be harder to find all the information they need, especially since the distance between students and the campus grows.
2. Education Quality
The quality of education is important to every student. That is the reason institutions keep improving their education, their facilities and services, with the help of students. Many students fear the quality will suffer because they are learning from a distance. In this case, gathering and utilising the feedback of students, is crucial to maintain education standards. However, in the recent NSE, only 37% of the students indicated they were satisfied with the gathering and usage of feedback.
Whenever all a course or even part of a course is conducted virtually, courses will need to be adjusted. After the coronavirus many courses were quickly copied on the VLE as a quick solution. According to the research conducted by the Dutch AT5 students perception of quality reduced as a result. 75% of all students thought that the quality of education had worsened since the coronavirus outbreak, indicating a lot of room for improvement.
Students will struggle providing their feedback in times of blended learning. Not every institution has the services to gather feedback and use it to improve their educational and digital facilities. The question is how educational institutions will cope and if students receive the quality of education they expect.
3. Mental Health
In the past few years, mental health problems amongst students have become a growing concern. More and more students experience stress and anxiety, leading to burnout or worse. The SES 2019 (Student Experience Survey) showed that 10% of all higher education students consider dropping out due to stress, anxiety or other mental health related issues.
When students experience these issues, they need to receive the right care. In some cases, talking to family, friends and fellow students can be beneficial. However, in many cases they are afraid of what those people might think and the problems are more severe, demanding professional care. Most institutions do facilitate either mental health care or help students find the right care. However, because students are at a greater physical distance and information about the available care is often hard to find, there are concerns about whether or not students will be able to receive the mental health care they need.
4. Help & Support
During their studies, students need help from various individuals and departments within an institution. One might need to speak with a lecturer or mentor, which could be difficult to achieve. Before the corona outbreak, students were able to simply find these individuals on campus. Students will now need to contact these individuals digitally or via phone, which is often hard to achieve.
There is also the possibility of students having problems with services or systems. This could be on campus, but also digitally. A problem with logging into a system or difficulties getting access to course materials, could result in students not having everything they need for their studies. In this case, the service desk has to be easy to contact for students. Since not every institution has a well organised service desk, students wonder if they will be able to get possible problems fixed on time.
At StuComm, we do everything to help students succeed. We help them to overcome their challenges and to focus on their studies. Want to know how? Contact us!