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Is hybrid learning the future of education?

by Vijay Garg
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More than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries got affected by school closures due to the pandemic. This forced educational institutions to adopt online technologies at break-neck speed.
Hybrid learning has gained exponential momentum
Hybrid learning has gained exponential momentum | Representational image
Technology having a social impact has evolved and matured based on the realisation that it will require innovative methods for mass instruction. This will address the inadequacy of information and development worldwide. The start-ups in the fields like education had already started leveraging the platform created by a dramatic proliferation of mobile-/smart-phones.
While the social technology ecosystem is always highly innovative, many efforts fail to achieve the appropriate and desired scale or impact due to reasons like lesser acceptability, access to easy traditional methods and relentless roadblocks.
However, with the covid-19 pandemic, established systems like education, health, and manufacturing got affected severely. According to the World Economic Forum, more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries got affected by school closures due to the pandemic. This forced educational institutions to adopt online technologies at break-neck speed.
Current dilemma
As the world surges towards a new way of life, the question being asked is -what is the educational model from now on? Will the traditional education system resume? Will the online classes continue with half the children remaining non-responsive or is there a choice that offers the best of both systems?
There has already been an impetus being given to the adoption of technology, with global education tech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to grow up to $350 billion by 2025.
Whether it is language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools or online learning software, blended learning or hybrid models, there has been a significant surge in their usage over the past decade. Among all these Hybrid learning has gained exponential momentum and is finding favour with the trainers and the trainees.
Is this the solution?
Naysayers believe that the unplanned and rapid push for online learning – with no training for teachers, insufficient bandwidth and connectivity issues — will result in a poor user experience that is unconducive to sustained learning. But many educators believe that a new hybrid model of education will emerge, with significant benefits.
As an integration of information technology with education accelerates, online education will eventually become an integral component of school education. It will be a tapestry meshing the benefits of work from home and co-working space.
A student, under the Hybrid Model of education, will be able to operate from home, finish assignments and post it, carry out learning in a self-paced manner and take initiative for working on projects. They will become attuned to creating original work.
Online learning can be more effective
Online sessions would be conducted with non-synchronous instructions that have to be followed — like a research trip to an area, where a student can decide how and when to undergo the trip, deduce the parameters for research and carry out work accordingly.
Learners can be called to classrooms on a rotation basis for discussions, clarifications of doubts, group assignments and assessments. For those who do have access to the right technology, there is evidence that learning online can be more effective in a number of ways.
Some research shows that on average, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. This is mostly due to the students being able to learn faster online; students engaged in e-learning require 40-60% less time to absorb a concept than they do in a traditional classroom setting.
In the same manner, the new form of training will propel the mentors and the teachers out of their comfort zones and thrust them towards up skilling. With easy-to-use apps and tools, teachers can save more time and bring about demonstrative teaching-learning in their classes.
Future of hybrid model
The Indian education system and the job market had been suffering from a lack of synchronisation for a long time now. The Hybrid model of education and training boosts self-confidence and prepares the trainees to be self-disciplined and self-dependent, qualities that have real-world applications and aid better prospects for professional growth.
With the Hybrid Model of learning, greater flexibility allows better teaching and hence effective learning. Each individual’s needs and problems get equal importance and solutions. As the set-up offers to deliver lectures through Live Sessions in a classroom that can be attended by students remotely, there is hardly a possibility of missing sessions.
Intelligent use of Artificial Intelligence will assist the teachers with class planning, student profiling, record-keeping, learning predictions, crafting courses, designing remedial measures for each student, thus helping with experiential learning.
Sophisticated assessments, reporting, comprehensive student evaluations, peer benchmarking facilities and granular reporting can all be made possible through the use of technology.
Potential of the Indian education system under NEP 2020 and technology impact
Education cannot stop or be held hostage to a pandemic situation. This realisation and subsequent reaction of the Government is pushing for a very agile and flexible New Education Policy 2020 is complemented with the technological advent and adoption of it by the private players.
This is expected to bear fruit in the long run. While the flexible system will be able to retain the students with different capabilities, the hybrid model of teaching will help the teachers to train and assess in a more creative way thus helping the students to remain in the mainstream.
While the pandemic and lockdown have led to unspeakable losses, in the education system, at least, one can see a silver lining — education being accessible in remote locations. As India accepts virtual classes, freedom of subjects, flexible assessments, it will become easier to train the next set of workforce, who are already quite adapted to virtual platforms.
The system is resetting its baseline. As ‘business as usual’ is threatened, education has found a new normal in the Hybrid Model of teaching.

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