Towards blended learning in India
A cost-effective and time-bound learning process is the essence of the Digital India initiative in higher education
With the emergence of new technologies every year, our perception of the world around us has changed. Digital technological interventions have transformed the traditional atmosphere of teaching and learning in the classroom. The growth of ICT infrastructure, tools and devices such as reliable internet connectivity, mobile phones and laptops has made it possible to deliver high quality learning materials online anywhere, anytime. , anywhere, in any language. Online education offers the potential of unlimited access to quality education.
The concept note deployed by the University Grants Commission on May 20, 2021 to introduce a blended teaching and learning mode at universities and colleges, where up to 40 percent of any course can be taught in a online, and 60 percent offline, is a welcome step as it will be more effective in increasing students’ learning skills and providing them with better access to quality education.
Learning is a dynamic process that evolves over time, in step with technological developments. India has been the center of learning for thousands of years and in ancient India, in the ‘gurukul’ format, oral teaching and memorization of prose texts from meditation were the foundations of the process of learning. teaching and learning. Over time, schools, colleges and universities today have been established where education is delivered in a conventional manner in a chalk face-to-face mode of interaction.
The Covid-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to learn digital skills, host webinars, learn about digital learning platforms, and realize the power of digital devices to deliver online education. Online learning ensures greater participation of teachers and students in the overall learning process.
Blended learning involves a combination of classroom instruction and online learning. It is now possible to create quality student-centered teaching materials using modern multimedia tools. Electronic conferences, unlike face-to-face teaching, are permanently accessible to learners and contribute to a better understanding and memorization of concepts. With skillful use of ICT, interactive lessons rich in content can be developed that excite learners and transform the learning environment, making it student-centered and where the teacher becomes the facilitator rather than the knowledge provider. .
With blended learning, a teacher can accurately assess the knowledge that a student has acquired and can provide him with electronic materials to explain concepts more effectively. Attractive online courses can generate greater interest in learners. The blended learning mode opens up the possibility of greater teacher-student interaction, allowing the student to better acquire knowledge and skills compared to face-to-face or online learning modes. Teachers and students remain more engaged with each other; students have more opportunities to interact with teachers to deepen their knowledge.
In mixed mode, teachers have more time for personal interaction with students, as online delivery of learning materials saves hours of classroom instruction, which can be used for activities focused on learner, better interaction and mentoring. The mix of instructional approaches helps more students grasp the topics easily. This will reduce the stress of slow learners who may find face-to-face classroom teaching more difficult. Fast learners will get more satisfaction from content-rich electronic media.
When students get used to working with online tools, they can collaborate and communicate with each other in a much better way. Students become more responsible and attentive in online learning, as they have to meet deadlines for the timely completion of various online assignments. This generates confidence and autonomy in the students.
The education policy document, NEP-2020, also highlighted the need for intensive use of technology in education to improve student learning, achieve the goal of 100% literacy and raise societal challenges. The policy envisages developing a digital infrastructure and empowering teachers to create quality e-learning materials. Importantly, blended learning will help pursue the goals of NEP-2020 by internationalizing indigenous knowledge through digitized course content.
In summary, blended learning will help learners learn at their own pace and will also instill a collaborative spirit allowing participants to work together and engage in discussion. The desire to learn will lead the participant towards the scientific accomplishment of his program and allow him to create new knowledge. As such, blended learning is a journey towards âAtmanirbhar Bharatâ through a collaborative approach between learners and teachers. Such learning also enables students to promote ownership of learning. A cost-effective and time-bound learning process is the need of the hour and blended learning stands out as the flagship of the Digital India initiative in higher education.
The author is the vice-chancellor of the Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar. The opinions expressed are personal.