As we closely monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on higher education around the Global. Currently around the world with Uganda inclusive, there are more than 1.5 billion learners, who are affected by university and school due to coronavirus outbreak in December 2019. This pandemic is causing us in academia and other educationists to rethink much of how we operate. How can we use technology more effectively? Do we offer the right courses, specializations, (pathways)? How much time will students need to complete a class or a degree?
I think all of these will brunt conversations going forward, but I also think COVID-19 has reminded us that as academics and educationalists’, we need to redefine the classroom. With COVID-19 “The world will never be the same again.” The prediction that the world will change leaves open the form and direction this change will take. We argue that higher education must play a most important role in helping to shape the post-COVID-19 world and do so by reshaping higher education itself.
We should accept this change and live with it. We can no longer insist on the traditional face-to-face class. For the sake of learning continuity, I propose the nation should embrace the blended learning or blended pedagogy. What is the definition of blended learning?.
There are quite a number of answers related the practice and phrasing: E-learning, Remote learning, Hybrid learning and Flipping the classroom. All of these practices involve learning, distance, the concept of place, and the use of technology. Whatever one calls it, blending pedagogy online education with traditional face-to-face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner.
Educators worldwide and Uganda, in particular, are bitterly disagreeing on what qualifies as ‘pedagogically valuable,’ but the core is clear. Blending learning uses online technologies not just supplement, but transform and improve the learning process. The critics should understand that a hybrid education does not mean a professor simply starts a chat room or upload lecture videos and claim that he/she is leading a hybrid classroom.
We should take note that successful blended learning occurs when technology and teaching inform each other. The critics should appreciate that blended learning is ostentatious, yet relatively new tool and not all lecturers or professors use it the same way. In most cases blended classrooms will use some version of a course management system application to connect with students online. With the online education, students will access videos of lectures, track assignments and progress, interact with professors and peers, and review other supporting materials like PowerPoint presentations. Online education is a game-changer, not just a supplement for the status quo.