Recent circular of UGC has proposed that higher education institutions(HEIs) teach 60% of course offline and rest online. This blended mode of teaching and learning paves way for increased student engagement in learning. It will improve student teacher interactions which went missing due to the Corona crisis.
There are various advantages of blended learning like increase in opportunity for institutional collaborations at a distance and enhance self learning accruing from blended learning. It must be noted that blended learning benefits teachers as well. The teacher is not just a knowledge provider but in offline mode a teacher is a coach and a mentor. This will help in impacting a students learning even more.
In the concept of blended learning, it can be made student driven and customised according to the needs of the class. According to the circular, the blended learning program also introduces flexibility and assessment and evaluation process as well. Due to increased vaccination, education institutions can look forward to the option of conducting classes offline.
But it must be noted that there are various challenges that lie ahead. Questions like, capacity of institutions to handle online classes must be asked. The cost and the pressure of that on students and parents must also be thought of. Only big corporates are capable to invest in technology and provide such online education.
According to all India survey on higher education report 60% of colleges in India are located in rural areas and 3/4th of them are privately managed. On top of it internet penetration in India is only 45% as of January 2021. The lack of resources available to students and teachers may be a roadblock to implement such blended learning programs.
The current policy in the existing circumstances of covid-19 will only exacerbate the existing geographical and digital divide. This will result in the exclusion of a large number of rural students, especially. This also makes females more vulnerable to dropouts.
It must be noted that interaction of students and teachers helps one to learn how to think. And that does not necessarily happen in isolation. Handling the covid cases has become a way of life in the last 2 years. It is evident that this disease is not going to go away soon. We have to learn to manage and live under the circumstances with precautions.
And gradually we all will have to learn to adapt to the circumstances. Although we cannot ensure that each and every one is included and no one is left out. It isn’t a pessimistic view but realistic stance at the current situation. The campuses give youth relative freedom from the shackles of communities from where they come.
Government and various organisations must step forward to ensure equity in access to technology. Overhaul of the education system must not leave behind students. This process of learning through blended learning must lead to the actualization of the 3 cardinal principles of education policy i.e. access, equity and quality.