- A. Introduction
The rapid growth of science and technology causes massive changes and improvement to be applied in language teaching process. One of the results of the development of science and technology is internet. Internet enables human to do a lot of activities without limitation of time and spaces. People are able to do their job even if they are not present at their work place. Internet also can be applied in many ways in education process. One of them is called blended learning.
This essay will try to explain the advantages and disadvantages of blended learning in language teaching. The reason of choosing this topic is that blended learning is not something new in language learning. However, the application of it may be troublesome for institution without adequate infrastructure to support its application.
- B. Objectives
This essay is meant to explain the advantages and disadvantages of blended learning in language teaching, especially in Indonesia. The reason of choosing Indonesia as a setting of the essay is that Indonesia is a big country. However, the development of infrastructure is uneven in every region. This essay will try to explain the advantages and disadvantages of blended learning if it is applied in whole region of Indonesia.
- C. Review of Related Literatures.
According to University of Wolverhampton (2010), blended learning is an approach to learning and teaching which combines and aligns learning undertaken in face-to-face sessions with learning opportunities created online (Hartoyo, 2012: 100).
Another definition according to Pensylvania State University (1009) stated that a blended learning approach combines face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities to form an integrated instructional approach (Hartoyo, 2012: 101).
Whitelock and Jelfs (2003) opened a journal special issue on this topic with 3 definitions:
- The integrated combination of traditional learning with web-based online approaches;
- The combination of media and tools employed in an e-learning environment;
- The combination of a number of pedagogic approaches, irrespective of learning technology use (Hartoyo, 2012: 102).
Driscoll (2002) identified four different concepts denoted by the term of blended learning:
- Combining or mixing web-based technology to accomplish an educational goal;
- Combining pedagogical approaches (e.g. constructivism, behaviorism, cognitivism) to produce an optional learning outcome with or without instructional technology;
- Combining any form of instructional technology with face-to-face instructor-led training;
- Combining instructional technology with actual job tasks (Hartoyo, 2012: 103).
Valiathan (2002) described blends in terms of the focus for learning, or intended learning, which is:
- Skill-driven learning, which combines self-paced learning with instructor or facilitator support to develop specific knowledge and skills;
- Attitude-driven learning, which mixes various events and delivery media to develop specific behavior;
- Competency-driven learning, which blends performance support tool with knowledge management resources and mentoring to develop workplace competencies (Hartoyo, 2012: 103).
- D. Analysis
Blended learning is a teaching method which combines traditional face-to-face teaching and some elements of distance learning. Blended or hybrid learning environments typically involves a distance learning component but also traditional face-to-face teaching (Mujiyanto, 2013: 62). The application of blended learning in language teaching provided several advantages and disadvantages to the language teaching itself.
The advantages of blended learning are it provides the advantages of both traditional and distance learning method. From the point of traditional teaching method, it gives both teacher and students a lot of interactions during classroom session. Teacher will have his or her whole time to teach, observe, evaluate, and give feedback to the students. Teaching activities will become more intense and effective due to the massive interaction between teacher and the students.
For the students, the traditional teaching method gives them many opportunities to learn, observe, asking more explanation and receive feedback from the teacher. The intense interaction between students and teachers will create a constructive environment for students’ improvements. Not only the interaction between teacher and students, but also the interaction between students is encouraged in traditional face-to-face teaching method. Students will be able to learn and share their knowledge with others. That kind of cooperative learning process will increase students’ rate of improvement, not only their cognitive, but also their affective and psychomotoric abilities.
From the point of distance learning in blended learning method, it provides more flexibility for both teacher and students in conducting the teaching learning process. The flexibility itself includes several aspect of teaching learning process.
First, the teacher will have more flexibility in delivering learning materials. Teacher does not have to deliver all the materials in classroom session. Teacher may deliver a part of the materials in classroom sessions, and other may be delivered by encouraging student to learn by themselves through web or other references on the internet.
Second, blended learning will provide teacher with much more flexibility and freedom in administering assessment. Teacher may conduct online task submission, quizzes, or even final test in the end of the semester. This kind of assessment will do both teacher and students good. Teacher will have much more time to evaluate and grade students’ performance, and the students are able to finish their tasks from wherever they are without coming to the classroom.
Beside many advantages blended learning has within it, it has potent disadvantages especially dealing with the online system which is crucial in blended learning. Internet connection is massively used in blended learning. In order to stay connected to the course, both of the teacher and students need internet connection. It is not a big problem if blended learning is applied in a school which has stable internet connection or in a downtown which is under coverage of an adequate internet network. Both of the teacher and students will be able to access and use internet connection properly.
The problem in applying blended learning will arise if blended learning is applied in a school or region which has unstable or in adequate internet connection. Both of teacher and the students will face difficulties in accessing and using internet connection. The lack of appropriate internet connection will lead into problem in administering the course. The teacher may have problem providing additional materials to the students, and the students may have problem dealing with the additional materials and references, tasks submission, and even quizzes and final test.
- E. Summary and Recommendation
Blended learning provides great advantages in teaching learning process. One of its advantages is the flexibility in administering the course. The teacher may improve the quality of teaching learning process by encouraging students to do some learning activity outside the classroom such as finding additional sources and references on the internet and taking online quizzes or test.
Beside the flexibility which is provided by blended learning, blended learning itself has potent disadvantages. Blended learning needs massive internet connection in its administration. If it is applied in school or region which has no adequate internet connection, the blended learning will lose its role to improve the quality of teaching learning process and eventually decrease the effectiveness of language learning.
The recommendation deal with the application of blended learning is teacher or institution should prepare the infrastructure first. In term of blended learning it needs stable and adequate internet connection. In case that the school or institution cannot provide proper internet connection, they should consider reducing the proportion of internet connection in teaching learning process.
Hartoyo. (2012). Information and Communication Technology in Language Learning. Semarang : Pelita Insani.
Mujiyanto, Januarius. (2013). Topics in Applied Linguistics. Semarang : Unnes Press.