Online Learning System with a Blended Approach for Upper Secondary Education System: An Overview

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Online education is quickly becoming one of the main choices for higher-level education students as it conveys many advantages on a global scale. Universities have offered online courses because they can reach more students globally without having to resort to creating campuses all around the world. With the constant growth of information technology, technology for online education is becoming even more accessible for everyone. Locally, some universities have offered online courses, however, there is a distinct lack of online education systems for upper secondary schools. This could be attributed to the difference in maturity between upper secondary school and university students where the latter are more likely to be actively pursuing their studies than the former. This leads to university students performing better than upper-secondary students when exposed to online education. In the case of high school students are only exposed to e-learning without any classroom time, it was noted that some students are not capable and do not have the self-discipline to complete their studies on their own time (Zhang et al., 2004) This leads to the notion that although online learning is a valuable tool, it cannot be a complete substitute to classroom learning. Because of the evolution of technology and internet technology, the foundation of any time, anyplace learning program can be easily fulfilled (Picciano et al., 2012).

Another aspect that could attribute to the lack of online education systems in upper secondary schools is that through observation, universities are better financed than most upper secondary schools and as such would be able to invest in systems to support learning such as online education systems. However, as technology is rapidly advancing, the systems involved with online education are becoming more accessible to everyone. This meant that upper secondary schools will be able to invest in online education systems which can help increase the quality of education that is being provided by the school. A simple online system can improve the academic standards of a university simply by providing study sources through an intranet which has been found to increase the students’ focus on learning and get them fully engaged (Adeyeye et al., 2014).

The creation of software such as Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, Google Meet, and other related synchronous communication software, enables a learning environment like traditional classroom teaching where students are free to converse and ask questions at any time to their teachers. Applying some active learning strategies will encourage students to participate actively during their online study time (Phillips, 2005). However, regardless of the student’s active participation, if the teachers are hard to reach and the course is poorly designed, then it will still be a detriment to the student’s education (Barbour et al., 2012). As such, a complete support system will be needed for the students on top of a well-designed online and offline environment to ensure that students are successful in their studies.

After brief research, there have been several studies and journal articles written about “blended learning” which has been shown to have more impact on upper secondary education students as it combines online teaching systems along with traditional classroom learning. With such a system, it allows the student freedom of autonomy during their online sessions as well as constant access to their materials online while still giving the students proper support and guidance through classroom learning.  However, blended learning still has a very broad definition which leads to various interpretations of the system, but more will be discussed in the next section (McGrath, 2013).

From research, there have been limited trials of blended learning systems in developing countries that have shown that they can be applied to improve critical thinking skills and learning outcomes of students (Pratiwi et al., 2014). Although it has proven to be beneficial, most schools will require some guidance to achieve as much benefit as they can from blended learning.