Students today have had their fair share of both Home-Based Learning (HBL) and classroom learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some students look forward to HBL, while others desperately dread it.
Which mode of learning is more effective? Let’s find out.
We did an Instagram survey to find out more about students’ sentiments and gathered that 54% of students preferred having HBL to face-to-face classes.
Has COVID-19 been a blessing in disguise and exposed us to a mode of learning that is more effective and efficient for students?
First, let us go through some of the reasons why they prefer HBL, as stated by students themselves:
Haven for Introverts
Many introverted students find HBL the ideal learning environment. They are able to participate in class without being surrounded by lots of other students, but by simply ‘unmuting’ themselves in the online lesson or even typing out their questions or answers into the chatbox.
This eliminates the stress of speaking out for shy students.
Comfort of Being at Home
For many students, HBL means that they can be in their comfortable home attire without having to wear their school uniforms or dress up, turn on the air-conditioner instead of having to deal with the sweltering heat in classrooms, and have easy access to food and drinks instead of having to walk to the water cooler or buy food during recess time.
Studying in a comfortable environment allows students to focus better.
Save on Transport Fees
Before HBL was a regular thing, some students had to travel all the way to school even if it’s just for a short lesson. This was not only a waste of time but also on transport fees for young students with little to no income.
Although students in Singapore enjoy student concessionary transport fares, they can save even more money without having to travel to school every day.
Because students don’t have to travel to school for HBL, they can spend their extra hours saved from transport on more sleep and work. It gives them the privilege to wake up just right before class without sacrificing their sleep time for dressing up and transport.
For students, time is extremely precious as they’re constantly busy having to juggle their academic commitments, to the point where they often had to sacrifice their sleep. Being able to sleep in and gain more rest thanks to HBL gives them more energy throughout the day to study.
Accessibility of Lesson Materials
During physical lessons, students have to frantically take down notes during lessons to ensure that they don’t miss anything out.
However, with HBL, lessons are either pre-recorded by teachers or can be recorded during the virtual lesson so that students can always go back to rewatch the lessons if they miss anything out.
More Flexible Schedule
HBL gives students a more flexible schedule as they are not stuck in school for the entire day, even between their free periods. They are able to squeeze more tasks into their schedule when they have no classes in between.
It seems like HBL brings about a lot of benefits for students, but there are definitely its downsides.
These are some of the reasons why 46% of students prefer going back to school to having HBL:
Easily Distracted at Home
When it’s just them and the screen, students find it difficult to stay focused and motivated.
Having to listen through speakers and deal with lags and glitches, back-to-back online meetings can be very draining.
No Hands-on Experience
We all know the importance of having practical lessons, especially for science practicals which are tested in our national exams. Certain diploma and degree courses are also heavily based on practical learning.
During HBL, students can only watch videos on how their practical work can be done, but it definitely is not able to replace the trial-and-error and real-life visualisation that hands-on learning can provide.
Lack of Social Life
As it goes without saying, HBL really compromises students’ social life. This could be a problem because being in school should give them many opportunities to expand their network and make new connections through very natural bonding sessions such as CCA and class time.
This is especially so for students switching to a new environment; they don’t have a chance to get to know their peers well and truly bond with them.
Humans are also naturally social creatures and crave for interactions to not feel alone. When school gets tough, having friends by their side can motivate them to keep going.
No Push Factor to Stay Focused
HBL requires a lot of self-discipline when the materials are all accessible and there is no teacher to physically supervise the students.
When the recorded lectures are provided to them, they have to take charge of their own learning and make the effort to study them carefully for their own benefit, as no one is going to force them to.
Poor Work Boundaries
When there is no stipulated place for studying, students can get overworked when home becomes their ‘second school’. They might feel the pressure to constantly study more at home, have meetings during their free time, etc.
58% of students we surveyed feel that there is a heavier workload when they have HBL. This could be because of the difficulty of online assignments as well as teachers trying to compensate for the lack of face-to-face meetings.
It is harder to respect time off of work and the lack of a proper work-life balance can take a mental toll on them.
Difficulty in Reaching Out
There is a stark difference when the teacher is teaching online, as compared to when the teacher is physically right in front of a student, being able to easily show the teacher their worksheet or workings.
‘Raise hand’ functions have been developed in online meetings, but sometimes, the teacher might not notice it and the student has to speak over their teacher in order to get their attention.
These generally discourage students from speaking out and asking questions during their online classes.
Students in Singapore have had a good experience of both classroom learning and online learning and we’ve seen that there are definitely two sides to the coin.
Although the announcement of HBL or going back to school will always spark mixed reactions among students, students have to learn to adapt and make the best out of their learning environment despite the pros and cons.
What do you think? How will the future of our education entail a healthy hybrid between both modes of learning?