How Blended STEM Education Can Help You Learn More

Traditional face-to-face classroom teaching is evolving and, due to advances in digital technology in education, it is often blended with other electronic media.

With a greater variety of lesson formats from online tutorials to virtual reality laboratories, more students are able to find support for their studies in a range of courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

While studying often challenging subjects, students are able to use online platforms to learn at their own pace, strengthen their knowledge of challenging topics, and even take part in experiments.

Blended and flipped learning programs also help students to develop autonomy in their learning and fit their studies around other commitments without compromising on their level of achievement.

Whether you follow an intense curriculum at technology college or decide to learn a new science subject from home, there are plenty of alternatives to traditional classroom teaching that can be tailored to your needs to make your learning more efficient.

Online Study Accelerates Learning

While online learning is highly suited to studying programming languages, software development and other areas of computer science, it has also been shown to benefit students of other STEM courses such as medicine or chemistry that traditionally have a more hands-on element of study.

eLearning can reduce the time required to master topics by up to 60% compared to being taught in more traditional face to face classes. STEM subjects can be particularly challenging and they require students not only to understand and analyze difficult concepts but also to memorize large amounts of information, ranging from complex code in computer science to difficult equations in chemistry.

As well as helping to accelerate learning, greater access to online resources such as study guides or customized tutorials allows students to learn at their own pace, giving them greater control over their studies.

Virtual Experiments Allow Greater Access

There are, of course, many aspects of a scientific study that require the completion of in-person experiments, but accessibility to these areas of study might be limited for some students due physical constraints, safety issues or a lack of materials. In response, colleges are providing virtual reality science labs to give students the experience of working in a real scientific research facility.

In some cases, students can carry out their own investigations at home with kits of dissecting instruments and animal specimens sent out by the college. Alternatively, they can attend intensive summer schools held on campus where they are able to fully immerse themselves in the laboratory experience without committing to regular classes.

Despite some experiments having to be shortened or otherwise modified, one study showed that online students did just as well or even better than regular students with access to semester-long laboratory courses on campus. They were also keen to continue their scientific studies by undertaking further research for doctorate and other postgraduate programs.

Customized Teaching Suits Different Learning Styles

The variety of digital teaching platforms now available means that all students are able to find a format that works for their personal learning style. There are four commonly recognized styles of learning in the VARK model: visual auditory, reading and writing and kinaesthetic, which highlight how students receive, process and internalize knowledge in different ways.

They may have a preference for interactive learning in the biology lab, using charts and graphs as visual aids in engineering, listening to pre-recorded chemistry lectures or simply reading the text of general science study guides online.

STEM students learn in different ways and when they find a teaching method that is customized to match their needs, they are more likely to reach their full potential.

Flipped Learning Maximizes Learning In Person

As well as matching a particular learning style, watching pre-recorded lectures and tutorials or undertaking extra curricular reading is also a great way to prepare for face to face tuition. A combination of preparatory work at home and in-person classes on campus is known as flipped learning and although it can be developed to take place completely online, it is one of the most popular and effective types of blended learning.

It involves inverting the traditional teaching technique from studying in class consolidated by homework to preparatory work explored more deeply in tutorials. From learning the first steps of a new programming language to discovering an unfamiliar concept in physics, taking some knowledge into the classroom gives students a headstart and helps them to get the most out of an in-person class or lab session.

Tutors are able to focus on more interactive tasks such as group discussions, problem-solving and hands-on experiments without having to spend time on explaining new material. This leads to a deeper engagement with the class and gives teachers the time to offer individualized support where needed.

Choosing Resources Encourages Autonomy

A recent study of engineering students revealed how making self-directed decisions about blended resources helped them to develop greater autonomy over learning. With such a wide range available, STEM students learn how to make informed choices about which resources to access and use.

This may sometimes involve picking less mainstream support materials because they are better suited to their particular style of learning. When they are undertaking a large percentage of work outside of the classroom, students are responsible for their own learning and so are more motivated to engage and invest in suitable resources that will complement their other studies.

Blended Learning Allows for Flexibility

In addition to offering a choice of resources to suit different styles and pace style of learning, blended courses provide students with flexibility around scheduling. With a choice of online resources, evening classes and intensive summer schools, students who are working or looking after a family can still find courses to fit around their busy schedules and other commitments.

Research shows that students on blended courses performed best when at least a third of in person classes were replaced with online tutorials and other activities. While a mix of face to face tuition and online resources can improve access to education, it does so without compromising the effectiveness of students’ learning or having a detrimental effect on their achievements.

Digital advances are transforming science and technology education by offering students a wider range of teaching resources and formats. Blended teaching and eLearning can be customized to suit different learning styles and help accelerate study.

Online courses are also more accessible and, although elements of the curriculum are often modified, they are found to be just as useful in motivating, teaching and supporting students to reach their full potential.

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