Blended Learning: Online or face-to-face?
We all have been experiencing the “challenging period” since the covid-19 outbreaks happened last year. It affects not only the way we spend our daily routines but also our study methods. I will share my experience about how I taught in seminar class in terms of face-to-face circumstances and how I made some adjustments to online teaching (e-learning) in term 2.
Face-to-face learning is undeniably fascinating and exciting. The atmospheres where we sit together with friends have “physical” discussion, and interactive communication in two ways between teachers and students is captivating. It drags us to get involved in class, pays more attention, and get fewer distractions, such as playing our mobile phone. On-site teaching means that I need to be ready with the supporting media, such as whiteboard markers, a rubber, and lighting. I have to make sure that the class is ready to use following the covid-19 restriction protocols. We needed to stay apart and keep social distancing in class and wear a mask or face shield.
Despite the restrictions, I enjoyed teaching face-to-face. I got more chances to interact with students and to know their faces. I found it easy for me to encourage them directly to get involved in our discussion. Sometimes looking at them directly told me which students were hesitant to raise their hands to deliver their opinions. Therefore, it was easy for me to spot it. I could do something to motivate them just to ask or answer questions. However, face-to-face teaching has its challenges. As we all agree, the UK weather is unpredictably changing every day, even every hour. It means we need to be more well prepared, such as having a coat, water or windproof jacket will be helpful.
In term 2, when the national lockdown took place, I made some adjustments in how I delivered my tutoring, how I studied, and how I did my research. Face-to-face teaching or meeting with supervisors was not possible. Luckily, the University of Warwick provided us with Teams for teaching and engagement. The app can be easily accessed by staff and students. While I like writing on the whiteboards when explaining the topics, I found that using the iPad as the “board” was relatively easy, and my handwriting was acceptable. I admit that my writing on the real whiteboard is much better than on the iPad screen. The good news is that right after the class finished, and I could send the pdf file to the students. It means that they had much time to take some essential notes during the class, compared to face-to-face class where of course, I could not send the materials I had written on the blackboard.
E-learning has its advantages. One of them is saving much time to commute to university at rush hours or bad weather. Some online learning provides you with pre-recorded videos meaning that you can choose your best time to watch the videos. I experienced that some students were more actively engaged in the virtual learning process. It makes sense since some may feel nervous to talk in a face-to-face meeting. However, unlike the face-to-face, unfortunately, all most students’ videos were off. This was one of the distractions for students. Having an online class when you can sit comfortably in your room sometimes drag us to quickly get distracted, such as eating, playing on mobile phones, or even “leaving” the class.