As of the first semester 2016/2017, the University took the decision to pilot and implement blended learning as a strategic objective. The blended learning approach was to enable the university to achieve several prime objectives at once, two of which are crucial. The first is the move from a teacher-based system of education to a student-centered system, or from "teaching" and "instruction" to learning. The second is coping with the increasingly tech-savvy new generation by integrating technology in learning. The first objective was extremely vital as most of our students come from a teaching-based system, which does not pay ample attention to higher skills: such as critical analysis, problem-solving, hands-on tasks, communication skills, etc. Switching to a learning-based system (at least in half of its processes) is a breakthrough, as students start relying on themselves and owning the learning, instead of relying on teachers. The second objective is also of fundamental importance, as technology is an indispensable tool for the new generation, which is often described as digitally native.
They say ‘it takes two to Tango’. Our performance and enthusiasm as teachers rely, in part, on who we are teaching and how engaged with the class they are. In the traditional method, class engagement is rarely available, and even those students who are normally considered ‘good’ students quickly lose enthusiasm for class. Who wouldn’t when every class starts with “please open your books to page…”. Blended learning, on the other hand, creates a more student-centered learning environment. Imagine the liveliness created in the classroom when students take the lead and, at least, prepare the material necessary for the next class beforehand, then come to class to ask questions and engage in discussions, all the way having their professor guide their learning process step-by-step. Whether we like it or not, this is the age of information, and we are no longer the only source of that information. Sure, blended learning requires more work from the students and the teacher, but the benefits drastically outweigh the challenges, if any, and it gets much easier with time.