Blended learning (BL) in schools, or the integration of face-to-face and online instruction, is widely adopted across higher education with some referring to it as the “new traditional model”. Asynchronous and synchronous learning mixed together? Brick and mortar school structure and eLearning at once? That’s the blended learning approach. Not so new concept of blending different teaching techniques is getting more and more popular in scholar education. 78% of students find eBooks to be more effective than traditional paper books. Lynn University in Florida found in a 2018 survey, 78% of students found Multi-Touch eBooks (Apple eBooks suitable for education) to be more effective than traditional paper books. The report also noted an increase in these results by 13% from the 2013 levels. 

The wonderful thing about implementing a blended learning strategy is that you can determine exactly how interactive your blended learning courses, and the overall eLearning experience will be. How much of your learning will take place via live online training and how much will be based upon self-paced learning activities? You will want to determine this aspect of your blended learning strategy in advance, as it will dictate your blended learning course plan. Opting for a blended learning strategy gives you the opportunity to choose among a plethora of online learning tools and delivery methods.

On paper this trend might look like a thing of concern, all new technology must bear that cross before gaining the trust of the general populace, us. After being criticized for far too many advantages, it is safe to say that e-books have found their way around to cement their place in the modern world. E-reading in recent times has gone up way too much with almost all traditional newspapers and magazines making their presence known in the e-space. Sure the smell, touch and feel of a new paperback are invaluable. But hardcovers and paperbacks are a thing of the past. For the present-day student, the clickability to quickly browse through different chapters, and the added advantage of looking up additional sources to expand their knowledge on a specific topic are way more important. With the advent of Ebooks – newspapers, magazines and paperbacks that were traditionally known as cold media, owing to their passive nature, have become hot media with the addition of interactivity. 

How are ebooks beneficial?

1) Portability – E-books are easily portable. One wouldn’t need separate lockers or school bags to store them, the mobile phone is enough.The only true limit to how many ebooks one can carry at a given time period is dependent only on the memory limit in their phone.

2) Affordability – With printing costs cut down to 0, the only actual costs are the efforts of the author and the subsequent marketers, if any, which makes e-books relatively cheap to buy. As opposed to the traditional paperbacks their rate of depreciation is 0 i.e., they don’t lose quality over time so it becomes easy to pass on to someone in need after its usage value for someone has diminished

3) Easy content updatability –  Updating new content is relatively cheaper and easier in the digital format compared to the traditional hard copies. This ensures that the students always have up-to-date information without having to spend lots of money on new books

4) Hyperlinking – E-books can be made interactive with the addition of hyperlinking for easy browsing within the ebook and linking to additional external resources which can prove helpful for the students. On the other hand, students themselves can open up an additional browser tab in the background app and search for anything related to the content almost instantly

The case against E-Books

‘But even with the benefits abound, there are far too many health-related disadvantages’ is a legit concern. Our eyes were never meant to focus on things really close to us which have been the case against traditional paperbacks too. In addition to that, there is the added threat from the blue screen and the risk of turning the eyes dry. To null these side effects, we can practice a few remedies.

1) The 20-20-20 rule – This is a simple rule which states that whenever we use a digital device for extended amounts of time, we must turn our focus off every 20 minutes to stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. A simpler alternative to this is the 50-10 rule according to which one must take a 10-minute break following every 50 minutes of the time spent on digital devices

2) Amber Light Apps – the Amber light is often relaxing on the eyes unlike the blue light from the mobile or computer screen. Using the amber light apps ensures setting up the display light in such a way that it decreases the blue screen intensity. It is usually found in the form of ‘Night Mode’ in most devices. 

3) Blue Light Filter glasses – These glasses protect the eyes from harmful blue light by blocking them. These have become pretty common these days and can be found on any digital store like lenskart. 

4) Blinking exercises – Blinking helps renew tear film which is essential to moisturize eyes and protect them from drying out. There are tons of resources online showing different variations of these blinking exercises, find one which you think is helpful and practice, they can be very helpful

Technology can always be used as a boom and a bane, few of the ways to make the best of use of technology in the ed space are discussed as follows –

  1. “Blended Learning” – Take technology into the classroom. Make use of powerpoint presentations, conceptual videos, animated infographics etc., to amplify the students’ learning experience. These won’t just inculcate conceptual thinking in students’ minds but owing to their animated quality, these also contribute towards giving an aesthetically pleasing experience. Certain old age rules never fail, one of them is – ‘Attractive things always work better’. Blended learning in schools is a powerful way to use technology and amplify students learning experiences and outcomes.
  1. Immersive Learning – Make use of audio-visual and 3D technologies to simulate concepts and indulge students in the lessons taught. This way they can relate to the concepts in a better way. Immersive learning has the potential to involve all kinds of learners if used correctly.
  1. Asynchronous Learning – One of the highly efficient ways technology can be used is in giving access to all kinds of learning material to students in a storage platform or a learning management system. So that they can learn things whenever they want, and at their own pace. Asynchronous learning takes off the boundaries which usually limit the learning environment to the classroom and makes it omnipotent and independent.
  1. Personalized Learning – 21st century has witnessed a change of focus in every field from being machine-centered to human-centered. The objective viewpoint has become less harsh to accommodate the individual differences and personal feelings of the human being. Ed-space has unlimited potential in making use of the technology to make the learning experience more personalized. Advanced technologies like AI and Machine Learning can be used to produce algorithms that can draw personalized learning paths based on the individual’s education level, the pace of learning, preferred style of learning, etc.

To sum up, the usage of technology is completely dependent on a human choice like everything else. While it is true that people tend to use it for not-so-appreciable purposes, a good mentor can change the way a pupil takes advantage of it. 

Times have changed, we need to adapt too. Now, the stakeholders in education space such as schools and teachers should aim to use technology for better learning outcomes and making processes easier. Various initiatives and openness to use technology for better outcomes and growth is seen. Teachers and schools are collaborating and investing in using classroom apps for students and online classes for 8th graders, 9th graders and 10th graders.

Adaptability of technology in the right way is the key now.

In summary, like it or not, e-books are here to stay, not withholding the due credit the pandemic deserves. The onus is on us to accommodate them into our lives and derive maximum benefits of their potential. The book reading habits might change with the advent of e-reading but they evolve only to include a much more eclectic way of consuming information rather than sticking only to one modality which only maximizes our learning potential.