School Curriculum And Assessment Should Change With Hybrid Mode Of Learning The hybrid learning model brings together the value of personalization, increased flexibility and instant assessment feedback

By Pankaj Agarwal

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The world has been facing unprecedented times since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early January 2020. Consequently, as a reaction, all educational institutes in India were closed indefinitely, affecting millions of learners. The shift from traditional face-to-face learning to distance (remote) learning brought the spotlight onto the vastly existing systemic inequalities within the educational system. These inequalities are clearly visible in terms of teacher capacity, student learning outcomes, engagement between teachers and students and access to digital infrastructure and technology. A cohesive integration between traditional classroom learning and online learning was a dire need.

A status report on the effectiveness of schools during COVID-19 indicated that more than 80 per cent of government school students in Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh did not receive educational resources during the lockdown period.

Despite the pandemic, the government has made considerable efforts to respond to this crisis by showing a commitment to quality education by publishing the National Education Policy (NEP) in 2020.

While the NEP stresses the importance of digital technology in reviving the educational infrastructure, addressing the status of learning outcomes suffered by students (especially children from public schools) is critical. A balanced approach to a hybrid learning infrastructure could be the solution to address these critical educational gaps.

Blended learning or a "hybrid' learning model has been around over the last decade. Still, it has come to everyone's attention recently due to the unprecedented global crisis brought about by the pandemic. COVID-19 forced educational institutions to attempt the "online' method of academic instruction. This created an enormous scope for learning among educators across the world. Various approaches to online learning and assessments were undertaken. One such approach that most educators found to be effective was hybrid learning. As a quick recall, hybrid learning is an education model of teaching and learning that combines in-person and virtual learning.

One concrete way to achieve the fundamental principles of NEP 2020—accessibility, affordability, equity and quality—is by adopting newer technologies that work to enable the existing system rather than disrupt it. These new technologies aim to enable the system by providing a necessary bridge between students at different learning levels and teachers. Thus, driving higher engagement and student learning outcomes while upskilling the teachers in accessible and direct content delivery.

I believe that an effective integrated school system is a combination of having workable learning models in place along with ensuring that teachers are equipped to carry out these learning models. Teachers are the cornerstones of every education system. For them to continuously demonstrate their passion and commitment, it is imperative that they are provided with all the necessary tools to perform their duties.

With the added flexibility in learning modes, a need for flexible assessment methods also rises. Assessment tools in hybrid learning provide teachers with detailed, individual student performance reports within seconds. Thus, enabling teachers to make data-backed personalized learning and assessment tools every time they teach their students.

Administrators can use hybrid assessments to test students' learning achievement in a bid to understand the efficiency and effectiveness of NEP or such policies and other crucial domains that govern the everyday functioning of schools. If executed for a sample size of 30,000 students for two subjects, hybrid assessments have the potential to decrease the time taken to conduct such assessments by 575 times, simultaneously reducing the costs by a factor of four.

Planning out what assessments one wants to take and leveraging tools to facilitate these assessments are crucial steps for effective blended classroom learning. Andrew Miller (2020) argues that instructors should leverage technology tools for summative assessment in online learning environments. He argues that many technology tools already offer built-in features like quizzes and tests that allow for seamless integration of summative assessments. He mainly stresses that instructors should take full advantage of online assessment tools by tracking usage and analysing data collected within those tools. This will assist in monitoring students' progress and assist teachers in adapting instruction if necessary (Miller, 2015). 

The hybrid learning model brings together the value of personalization, increased flexibility and instant assessment feedback. The HL model allows artificial intelligence to customize assessments to cater to varied learning needs. Thus, resulting in improved learning outcomes. Evaluating students through AI-powered online tools promotes self-paced learning among students. It eventually helps students become independent learners. The hybrid learning model has immense potential to tap into new areas in the education sector that were unthinkable before the COVID-19 era. Educators and educational institutions should make existing curriculums and assessments cohesive and adaptable to a hybrid learning environment and leverage the gains. I firmly believe this to be the future that will enable students, educators and administrators to drive quantifiable learning outcomes in the digital world.

Pankaj Agarwal

Founder & CEO, Taghive

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