Impact Of Blended Learning On the Education System While the pandemic has provided immense opportunities for a mix of online and offline education, digital transformation has provided many the opportunities to explore new ways of understanding concepts

By Chitra Ravi

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One of the visible effects of the pandemic in our society is the drive-in tech adoption across services and processes. This has also accelerated the approach of blended learning to education. Blended learning or hybrid learning is combining digital learning tools with traditional face-to-face teaching. From being one of the biggest untapped areas for advancements, the education space saw a dynamic shift with numerous investments and innovations both from educational institutions as well as government bodies. This was mainly because, society realised that a child's overall development is important and a holistic approach with the help of advanced edutech solutions is necessary to achieve this. Blended learning was introduced to help secure education by keeping the child and childhood at its centre.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning helps by providing a combination of "brick-and-mortar' and activity-based learning for students. In this manner, students will still attend schools with a teacher present, but the content and its delivery would be using a tech interface. Other than in schools, blended learning can also be used for professional development and training. Blended learning provides a holistic understanding and transforms the learning experience for its end-users. By using a virtual environment, access to learning becomes unlimited. A student would be able to access their classrooms from any place eliminating the need for attending classes or training at a fixed place. Learners no longer need to be confined or at a certain place to attend the classes/training.

While blended learning has been an effective model for many students, its implementation in schools requires a well-built instructional model that suits the needs of the educators and students.

Role of technology in blended learning

Enabling collaborative learning: Through individual and group activities, students learn to be collective and polish their critical thinking skills. Educators and students can collaborate to form a unique, personalised learning method based on student requirements for effectively understanding various concepts. Through customised study modules and videos, teachers can create a personalised resource library for students for their studies. After building this resource library based on common need areas, a teacher can expand it to address needs that come up less frequently and advise individual students or groups about these helpful resources.

Facilitating organised learning: Educators can orchestrate classes and disseminate information in a controlled and organised manner to suit the students. Through digital worksheets, interactive discussion boards, video tutorials, etc., students can participate in controlled experiences. It empowers students to lead in classrooms, enriches their learning experience and helps use technology to build a good foundation in their studies.

Building open and rich dialogue between stakeholders: It is not only important to manage instructions in a classroom, but also assess the class. Online classrooms facilitate open and rich dialogues between the student and teacher. The teachers can collect assignments, give feedback and offer learning resources to meet diverse learners' needs. They can converse with the different stakeholders, such as parents, students and investors on the various challenges being faced and suggest areas for improvement.

Challenges of blended learning in the recent times

Though blended learning offers the students a mix of computerised yet personalised modules of learning, there are quite a few challenges that one faces with this process, such as:

Handling technological constraints: In India, many teachers have difficulty in understanding technology . Even students who aren't exposed to such technologies have reported to feel isolated, thus experiencing a negative impact on their learning. Many schools have also reported that incorporating blended learning proved to be costlier than the traditional method. In many institutions, funds are insufficient for the development of a Learning Management System (LMS).

Widening learning gap: Majority of India doesn't have access to learn online. They neither have an electronic gadget through which they could attend classes, nor do they have the necessary Internet bandwidth.

Handling physical constraints: With most of the sectors opening, many schools have requested their students to attend classes physically. Though many feel that it would eliminate the need for using blended learning, it isn't so. Blended learning helps present innovative technological solutions integrated in the traditional method. Many professionals combine the online modules with the notes they have acquired. It, in turn, helps increase the exposure the student has to a particular subject/concept.

Retaining authenticity of the educator: With the adoption of technology in the classrooms, the effectiveness of pre-made instructional videos with an endless stream of pre-written questions is still up for debate. Many institutions seem to forget that the teacher is an important agent in educating the students. In many cases, educators often take a back seat while using outsourced content and students may question the dedication of the tutor as well as end up being restless.

Impact of blended learning on the students and teachers:

  • The role of blended learning has become crucial as it breaks down the traditional methods of teaching. With the help of technology, it customises resources and tailors the learning experience to fit every student's need. Since blended learning also offers high flexibility and personalisation, students have the freedom to learn at their own pace. Thus, through blended tools, students can enjoy personalised learning that suits their study routine, and teachers can interact with students by monitoring their growth and giving instant feedback. This remodelled method of tutoring by using additional tools beyond the classroom can a have a positive impact on the students' learning and training experience.
  • Blended learning helps improve various factors in the classroom for teachers as well, like resulting in more engaged students, real-time and reliable feedback on teaching methods, new methods of teaching, collaborative learning and time management, among others. Thus, through blended learning, schools and teachers are mainly focusing on inculcating methods for students to understand and manage their social and emotional well-being.

While the pandemic has provided immense opportunities for a mix of online and offline education, digital transformation has provided many the opportunities to explore new ways of understanding concepts. The future of edtech will be in blended models of education. These models would help provide a solution to the access and quality of education seen in India.

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Chitra Ravi

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Chrysalis

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