NICK HUTTON tells SHALINI SAKSENA how the Internet has made it possible for education to reach the remotest parts of India
What is a hybrid learning model?
A hybrid learning model is a learning model in which most of the learning is done online supplemented with face-to-face instruction. Hybrid learning combines the benefits of both online and offline learning, giving students a balanced perspective: Where the in-person interventions can fulfill the social and emotional needs of students, and the online, self-paced learning allows for flexibility and personalisation. This effectively prepares the learner for the workforce and whatever lies ahead.
How to implement it effectively?
To effectively implement a hybrid learning model, States and districts will need to ensure that the technology utilised is one that can fully support both online and offline learning. It should allow the online activity to be engaging and personalised, because if it isn’t, the students will not be able to effectively take advantage of the learning model. As such, teacher intervention becomes completely inadequate. The technology utilised should also enhance the way the teacher intervenes: the tools used should support the teacher’s delivery and pedagogical style in order to ensure the best outcomes.
How does it allow educational institutions to prepare for changing scenarios?
The lockdown have already changed the learning landscape in India. With the second wave of rising cases, it is apparent that schools are not going to open up fully anytime soon. Given that we can’t do away with technology for the foreseeable future, it is critical for the institutions to understand that adopting a robust learning platform ensures that quality education is still delivered in spite of the unavoidable circumstances.
Why is the hybrid learning model especially essential for India?
Today, as the Internet is made available across all parts of India, being able to deliver education to even the remote parts of the country becomes a legitimate possibility and not just a far-fetched dream. At present, higher education courses are skewed towards bigger towns, and rural areas tend to be less catered to. The only way to reach them is through the hybrid model: Anyone who wants to study and get access to higher education courses can do so at the comfort of their own living space without having to travel to bigger towns or spend extra money or resources. Hybrid learning can help to increase the gross enrollment ratio and decrease the dropout ratio across the country in the long run.
How do we ensure students of all abilities are accounted for in our new learning systems?
A proper learning management system creates equity for all students. For example, teachers or faculties are able to manage the delivery of the learning, from the content or topic, through to the activity, based on the abilities of the students. It is not only important to create equity across all abilities of students, but it is also important to have equity in terms of accessibility and inclusion challenges. Equity is also about ensuring that any student can use any device to access the course and learn — be it mobile devices, or assistive devices like screen readers. Getting the right technology to include and support all students and give them excellent access to learning is another critical area of creating an equitable classroom.