Everyday more we hear about blended learning. We read about it in blog posts, we take classes that apply blended learning, we have long discussions on how to actually apply that in our courses. But now I want to pause for a minute and think; why this shift? Why are we trying to go from traditional classroom learning to blended learning? I am not saying this is bad, totally the contrary, I think blended learning has and will improve our learning. But still, when something happens, I always think… Is this the new trend? Did we actually research this the proper way? Are we doing it just because everyone is talking about it, or there are actual advantages to it? And if so, what were the issues in the traditional classroom learning that can be resolved by doing blended learning? Too many questions I know, but bear with me as I have one last one. Why don’t we go fully online? Is it because we want the best of both worlds (i.e., face-to-face and online environment)?

Adapted from [1]

So to begin with, do I think there is enough research on blended learning, or do I think that the results from this research is enough for us to be convinced of applying blended learning? Well, without conducting some sort of a systematic study, to thoroughly analyze this topic, it is hard to come to a conclusion. However, there has been a study conducted by Ashraf, Muhammad Azeem, et al. [2], which is a systematic review of systematic reviews on blended learning. According to this study, the first systematic review on blended learning has been conducted in 2012, and there has been an increase of systematic reviews on blended learning, reaching the peak in 2020. Consequently, that means that there has also been an increase of studies on blended learning. Moreover, a simple search on Google Scholar related to blended learning, yields about 33900 results only in 2021. Therefore, my initial impression is that research in blended learning has been carried out for quite a while, and it is receiving an even higher interest in the last few years.

Some of the reasons why learning starting shifting from the traditional classroom to blended learning are of course the flexibility it offers, where students can access the information any time and from anywhere they want as long as they have access to an internet connection, the increased engagement of students who are probably not so comfortable sharing their questions and ideas in a face-to-face environment, the autonomy the students have over their learning etc.

When it comes to why blended learning and not only online learning, to me the answer is simple. Personally, I would lose the motivation and enthusiasm if there was a lack of face-to-face learning or discussions. Even though I deeply enjoy the freedom provided by online learning, and online discussions I am the kind of learner that quickly loses interest if there is no face to face communication. But I do not think that this is only dependant on personal preference. At a large extent I believe it also depends on the topic. There are classes that would be better carried out online and there are classes that would be better carried out face-to-face. Of course, we can do everything online or everything face-to-face but that would jeopardise the whole learning. As an example of this, I want to share a personal experience. I did my bachelors in a country that fostered only the traditional classroom. And not only in the way of learning but also in the way of evaluating. So what would happen is that we would do programming, by writing the code in a whiteboard, and we would be assessed by writing the code in a white sheet. For all of you who are not working or studying computer science, it feels the same way as someone asking you to learn how to drive without a car.

These are only few of my opinions, but I would definitely love to hear more from you.


[2] Ashraf MA, Yang M, Zhang Y, Denden M, Tlili A, Liu J, Huang R, Burgos D. A Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews on Blended Learning: Trends, Gaps and Future Directions. Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2021;14:1525-1541.