Blended learning approach in the BED (foundation phase teaching) programme: strengths and challenges
Kies, Carolynne Christell
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Blended learning in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) has become increasingly popular (Graham, 2006; Guangying, 2014; Win & Wyn, 2015). In 2015 and 2016 South African Higher Education Institutions struggled with the impact of the #FeesMustFall campaign, which sought to reduce and, in some instances, eliminate the fees required to engage in Higher Education studies. The #FeesMustFall campaign led to classes being disrupted and consequently suspended. Offering blended and purely online teaching was not a common practice, and was resisted by many teaching staff members of universities. Although blended learning was increasingly being used in the learning enterprise, it was only during the national ‘lockdown’ phase that most countries and educational institutions experienced the need to expand the implementation of online learning. Hence, there was a dire need to design interactive learning environments for effective learning and teaching. Both the #FeesMustFall campaign and the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the use and implementation of blended learning in the South African higher education sector. Accordingly, lecturers needed to diversify their teaching practices to cater for diverse students entering institutions of higher learning. The development of a blended learning environment includes the careful discussion, planning, and selection of eTools, for both physical classrooms and online environments. This method was used to enhance teaching practice and, more importantly, the learning process. It is important to note that students who enter university are not always English home language speakers. This factor could influence the quality and frequency of student interactions during face-to-face classes and teaching activities. It is also important to note that students learn in different ways and have different learning styles. In order to address the needs of diverse students, lecturers need to understand their target audience and how their teaching methods may assist students’ learning.