The Pros and Cons of Blended & Remote Learning

Jarett Rodolfo

     The coronavirus pandemic has forced schools to adopt new learning models to ensure the continuity of education, two of which are blended and remote learning. We’ve surveyed Curtis High School teachers and students participating in both models to understand the advantages and drawbacks of the two systems. 

Blended Learning

Foremost, it’s important to understand what blended learning is. 

     Blended systems incorporate in-person and remote schooling into one. For two days, teachers and students meet at school to engage in the traditional classroom procedures we’re all accustomed to. The rest of the week consists of online learning from home, with teachers and students interacting virtually through Google Classroom, Zoom, and Google Meets. 

Pros

  • More face-to-face socialization and interaction

     A common theme in students’ responses on why they chose blended learning was the need for socialization. As Casey Mulvey, a sophomore, puts it, “I chose blended learning to get back to a proper learning environment. My favorite part of being in blended learning is seeing my friends and learning from my teachers in person twice a week.” Socializing with peers and teachers on a regular basis is important for our mental and emotional health, especially during these lonesome times and this approach makes it possible. Ms. Mattina, a health teacher, agrees: “I think it’s really important for students to be able to socialize and get out of their homes. Not all students have a healthy home life and I felt obligated to be a teacher who provides somewhere for those students to go during the day.” 

  • More independence for students

     Furthermore, students in a blended learning model are pushed to develop independence, a critical skill in any lifestyle. As Mrs. Francis, the IB Coordinator and an Algebra II teacher, puts it: “My favorite part of blended learning is the transition to more student-centered learning; ‘forcing’ students to work more independently and gain ownership of their learning.” 

Cons

  • It can be difficult for students and teachers to communicate

     It can be hard for teachers to continue classroom activities that were routine last year, such as group work and stations which cannot be done normally anymore due to social distancing measures. Teachers also have trouble with getting to know their students because of the lack of face-to-face interaction when they’re not in-person. As Mrs. Mattina puts it, “I find it difficult to develop relationships with the students and get to know them since I only see them in person once a week.” 

  • Boring free-periods

     Another issue that students seem to dislike are the holes in their schedules, or their free periods. Sebastian David, a sophomore, states that “I am really satisfied with blended learning, however, seventy-eight minutes when you have a hole on your schedule is a little too much because I have 2 of them on Friday.” Free periods are appealing at first, but students have voiced that staying in the auditorium for extended periods of time becomes boring. Omosofe Noruwa, another sophomore, agrees: “My least favorite parts about blended learning are just the 78 minutes. It’s excessive.” 

Remote Learning 

     In contrast, remote learning gives students the option to utilize the internet to attend class without physically attending school. With growing concerns about health and safety during the pandemic, students and parents have resorted to the remote model.

Pros

  • Convenient and Flexible

     First, students get to stay home and work from their bedrooms. This is especially advantageous to students who usually travel long distances to school; travel time is now out of the equation. Sebastian Chan, a Curtis sophomore, loves it: “My favorite part (of remote learning) is that I don’t have to wake up early to take the bus.”

     Students also enjoy more sleep and flexibility in remote learning. Tracy Zheng, a sophomore, says, “I chose remote learning because I don’t like getting dressed for school, and also because I could stay in bed.” 

  • It feels safer

     Students also have family members in their households that are susceptible to COVID-19, with older relatives at higher risk. Remote learning alleviates this danger by keeping students indoors. Kaetlynn Velez, a Curtis Sophomore said, “I chose remote because I can’t risk going outside because I live with older people who are more vulnerable to the virus.” 

  • Additional resources

     Remote learning also offers more resources to teachers for a more coherent learning experience. Robert Matinna, an English teacher, expresses his appreciation for it as he says “Some of the pros of fully remote teaching started when the city gave us free access to online resources that we wouldn’t have had access to, had it not been for quarantine. Because of that, many new tools have been discovered. They add more variety to the things we can do in the virtual classroom.” It can be easier for teachers to teach over the internet with added digital assets such as videos and programs. 

Cons

  • Accessiblity

     One major disadvantage of remote learning is that not everyone has access to reliable and up-to-date technology to participate in online classes. While this issue has been addressed through DOE-lended devices, not all students have access to a stable internet connection. Additionally, strong dependence on technology creates a discrepancy in students and teachers between those who are experienced with technology and those who aren’t. 

  • Demands more self-discipline and developed time-management skills

     The flexibility of remote learning is a double-edged sword. A student’s success in remote learning rests almost entirely on them. They have to have the discipline, motivation, and time management skills to attend classes and do their work. While it may be more convenient than having to commute to school, students may indulge too much in comfort and forget to prioritize their academic responsibilities. 

  • Lack of interaction between students and teachers

     Also, remote learning hinders students’ socialization, especially with friends they haven’t seen since the pandemic started. This lack of interaction can lead to feelings of isolation, which can diminish a student’s motivation. For some, not having enough interaction with peers and teachers is the greatest obstacle to remote learning. Richard Gill, a sophomore, says, “I feel like I’m isolated from the world and in turn cause negative emotions to spur. Since we need others to survive, it has become harder to live without other people around you. Since I haven’t been able to talk to friends, I developed a need to want to talk to them, and knowing that I can’t, makes me feel powerless.” 

     Overall, students choose the model that suits their needs best. Many enjoy the flexibility and peace of mind of remote learning while others love the opportunity to see their friends and teachers again in the remote model. Regardless, everyone can agree that coronavirus has definitely ushered in some huge changes to the education system.