Is Blended Learning Effective at UPI?

Due to this COVID-19 pandemic, all the activities are restricted by the government for almost a year. Not without cause, those restrictions are made to reduce the spread of the virus. Several attempts have been made by the government to overcome this virus, among others as follows: first, urging the public to wear masks, wash their hands, and keep distance to avoid infection. Second, monitoring the rate of spread of new variants of the virus that emerges then developing and updating technology. Third, increasing the 3T (Testing, Tracing, and Treatment) program. Last but not least, the government has made ‘work from home’ rules since the beginning of the pandemic. This rule applies to several aspects of the industry, not except the education industry. The government assumes that the education world can undergo distance learning through assorted learning media provided.

Online learning is a form of distance education carried out from homes over personal computers (PCs) or laptops that are connected to the internet network with a smooth signal. This is a good method because there is no direct physical touch between students and teachers, so the spread of the virus does not increase significantly. In addition, online learning is very practical and flexible. Teachers and students do not have to go to school which will take a lot of time. Also, online learning allows students to manage their own study time; as a result, they become more productive by doing another activities after-school.

Aside from many benefits of online learning, it cannot be separated from the problems faced. Some issues normally encountered in online learning are quotas and networks. The high price of internet quotas, overwhelmed lower-middle-income parents. In remote or rural areas, unstable networks often occur because their location is quite far from the reach of cellular signals causing a lack of concentration and good mood for learning that ultimately makes the guidance of learning to be less effective. On various social media, many parents share their experiences while accompanying their children to study. Some of them are already oversaturated in online learning. This happens because their children are spending more time playing online games than studying.

Responding to the problems faced in online learning, the Minister of Education and Culture, Nadiem Makarim, has been allowed to conduct face-to-face learning but performed mixed (blended learning). Blended learning is a combination of direct face-to-face interactions in the classroom and online learning. This blended learning must be carried out with strict health protocols and prioritized for students who are doing research and practicum. Several universities have implemented this blended learning method. Then, what about UPI?

Salsa Dina Aisya is one of the 3rd semester students of entrepreneurship majors who have experienced blended learning. She has to come to campus to do marketing management lab work. According to her, this blended learning needs to be done to try out face-to-face learning. To make this program a success, UPI Tasik has implemented strict health protocols; moreover, all the students must have been vaccinated and get parental permission to come to campus. Before this blended learning was implemented, the campus management had conducted a survey containing questions regarding the readiness of students for face-to-face learning via Google form. Another rule that applies is the maximum number of students in one class is only 10 people, while the rest of them still do online learning via zoom.

 Source:  Tasikmalaya Campus Entrepreneurship

Salsa said that she was very pleased to perceive blended learning because it is not a secret anymore that learning on campus was more effective than online learning. The significant difference she found was the interactions with lecturers and friends, especially when discussing business products directly, became more comfortable, easier to understand. Apart from that, Salsa certainly has difficulty organizing offline and online activities.

“To be honest, if I could pick between blended learning and online learning, I would choose online learning or fully offline learning. Because if learning is done in a mixed way, it may be unfair in terms of capturing the material and in terms of distance.”

Furthermore, Salsa feels that she has not been able to optimally divide time between blended learning, internships, and the organizations she participates in. However, she can handle it by making a schedule and a priority scale, so all the activities she does can run well.

As a person who has experienced blended learning, she stated that UPI Tasik is ready enough to carry out the actual face-to-face learning. Salsa advised them who will or are doing blended learning to always wear masks, wash their hands, and keep distance from people around them to avoid viruses and other diseases.

For some people, online learning is may be fun. However, problems and challenges are inevitable. Therefore, the solution to all the problems faced is to carry out blended learning as a trial of actual face-to-face learning so that the effectiveness of the education industry returns to normal. (Gendis Wagiswari, Mahasiswa Bahasa dan Sastra Inggris, FPBS UPI)