Blended Learning Unit02/06/2022 2023-01-18 11:09
Blended Learning Unit
Blended Learning Unit
The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented crisis for most people and organizations. The UTM, its staff and students were no exception. In any such situation, with 160 plus full-time staff, some 300 part-time teaching staff and some 3000 registered students, reconciliation of interests, needs and wants of stakeholders which were so varied, any solution of consensus was a lost attempt right from the outset. Attempts made proved that point The UTM was indeed in unchartered waters. The challenge was several fold. How to continue to deliver courses through staff whose level of confidence and competence in using ICT to deliver courses range from excellent to practically nil? How to deliver courses to students who were in a similar situation with disparities ranging from those with excellent access to ICT, home environment, high level of competence to those who do not have access to ICT and other adverse conditions not conducive to continuity of learning? The semester had just started and many students were not even on the databases of the university. To all that should be added very motivated academic and non-academic staff with good intentions to possibly not so well intentioned stakeholders whose agenda could clearly be to create obstacles to any solution. Whatever solution was to be proposed would meet with adverse criticism which had the fertile ground of the media to blow any real or perceived shortcoming out of proportion. However the Blended Learning Unit set up at the time of crisis through quick, speedy, well-thought through, real-time decisions and communications, and encouragement of staff and students allowed our incoherent but most flexible approaches to effectively pass the test of the lockdown period without much damage to the reputation of the University in the eyes of stakeholders.
The UTM is proud to announce that blended learning has been institutionalized at the UTM using a combination of face-to-face delivery of courses and learning, a combination of other methods and online delivery and learning. Preliminary findings and focus groups with students and staff have undoubtedly revealed some areas requiring improvement or change in UTM’s approach to blended learning but has provided evidence that UTM was largely up to the mark in adapting to a crisis situation through a strategy of controlled-inclusiveness, flexibility, adaptability, capacity building, speed of decision-making, co-operation and teamwork between administration and academic staff among other critical factors that lead to success.
The learning by doing approach and value system of continuous improvement has proved to be a winning one. A big thank you to all UTM students, full-time and part-time teaching staff of UTM, administrative staff, and the UTM Board of Governors for mutually supporting each other to help the BLU carry out its mission of ensuring business continuity in a more digitalized and uncertain world.