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Potential disadvantages of the blended learning mode

Discussions about the benefits of blended learning experiences also add a word of warning. Namely, that mixed-mode learning is strongly dependent on the technical resources with which blended tasks are delivered. This implies that the platforms used by courses which are incorporate elements of online learning, should be reliable and easy-to-use. Yet another observation should be added here. At the Institute of English Studies, most of the correspondent students who enrol for a Masters Programme are in-service teachers (mostly women), who have considerable experience in teaching, yet not a very high level of computer literacy. In this case, even a user-friendly platform may create difficulties and even for tasks that may appear easy to accomplish to tutors and to some of the learning group. Not for all, though. This is why it is important to make sure that all students are aware of what is expected from them in the new instructional frame (blended learning) and to feel able to accomplish the task in a technical sense as well. My experiences with blended learning courses have shown that apparently minor challenges such as uploading a task on Co-space (the platform used at PTE -Pécs University) can actually enhance communication and improve the rapport between group members.

In the brick-and-mortar buildings classroom work teacher development is conveniently achieved with classroom observation either self- or by colleague, principal, supervisor or mentor. Observation is done along some evaluation and assessment form that the teacher is familiar with. As blended learning shifts emphasis from the former key role of the classroom, observation should take place in some other way. Another difficulty in blended learning could be that most educational institutions have not become less authoritative in their teaching. On the other hand, visiting classes often involves external participants or colleagues who would be sitting in the class to see what is going on. When the teacher got information about visitors coming, she often prepared a demo lesson hiding the most problematic aspects of her classroom work. Only the experienced supervisor or mentor could help surface the challenging aspects. Moreover, observation often connected to the bitter memories of one's teaching practice hiding all positive potentials or aspects. Most teachers would see it as something necessary and compulsory, and tried to get through with it without accepting the value of observation and supervision. In the new context of blended learning the focus has to be put more on the "reflective practitioner" (Schön p. 47). The reflective practitioner is a teacher who is discovering more about her own teaching by seeking to understand the processes of learning and teaching in their own classroom, and how special needs could be addressed. They are also willing to visit other teacher's classrooms, discuss and evaluate what is going through critical thinking.