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Blended learning will be a new norm in the future

By Dr. Anuradha Mehta,

Educational institutions are now experimenting with digital learning.

To align with the new reality, assessing the students and testing is another area where changes will have to be made, writes principal Dr. Anuradha Mehta.

We need a new normal and this is a good time to redesign the century-old approach to education in this country. The students need to understand data, evaluate it, learn how to access information and collaborate with others to solve problems. We should support kids the way they learn.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seriously upended the education system. As there is shift from classrooms to computer screens, all aspects of learning are being tested. Attendance, evaluation, format of instruction, human interaction and the role of technology are being re-imagined and these changes will last.

As we know, prolonged closure of schools and colleges has highlighted some underlying vulnerabilities in the education system and as the various stakeholders plug the gap, education is going to change forever. Blended learning, which has also been envisaged in our National Education Policy 2020, will be a new norm.

Remote learning or learning by screen will continue to play a major role even after the schools are able to re-open post-pandemic. We have been making significant strides for digitisation of education as it is the future in this direction.

Online classes and remote learning have been the medium for more than a year now, through which learning is delivered to the students and the teachers along with students have adapted themselves to make the best of this mode of learning though that does not mean that remote learning is the best or the only way forward.

We all know that conventional classroom teaching with human contact is still the best mode of learning. However, technology is a great enabler and hence has a significant role to play in the education system.

With a majority of the teachers having to learn to adapt to technology, educational institutions are experimenting with digital learning. This is the reason that teacher training will also need to be revamped to include practical aspects of technology in education. The impactful use of technology will be very important part of teacher training programmes in the future along with updated pedagogy,

Though significant advancements have already been made in remote learning and digitising education, quality of resources available for remote learning needs to be improved but access to high-speed internet and affordable gadgets for online resources is a concern in smaller cities and towns.

Internet connection can vary from area to area along with the quality and bandwidth even in major metropolitan cities. This is an issue that can be easily fixed and the government is taking steps to facilitate infrastructure development and framing policies to enhance the quality of internet in the country.

Problems faced in online classes
The imbalance in learning that arose in online classrooms is a major concern of the parents as well as the teachers. As the teachers themselves are teaching from behind a screen, they could hardly tell how well the students comprehend and understand the concepts of the subjects.

To align with the new reality, assessing the students and testing is another area where changes will have to be made. To deliver personalised results, standardised testing which has been the norm, will have to make way for adaptive tests.

Also,without having once experienced a physical classroom setting, there are batches of students in the lower section who have been promoted to the next class. And a significant number of students have spent their first day of formal education at home, in front of a screen.

So, based on learning outcomes, and previous tests taken, testing students will have to be adaptive in nature where customised assessment is done for each individual student and check their competency level.

Role of teachers during pandemic
Due to the pandemic, the role of teachers has also seen a significant change as they have been forced to make pedagogical adaptations for online classes. Audio-visual presentations and PowerPoint presentations have become the norm and all the teachers are forced to learn the use of technology to be able to take classes during the pandemic.

It is seen that teachers have to be creative in how they teach and engage with the students to gain students’ attention. To make teaching more effective and engaging, traditional the role of teachers has been disrupted and there is a need for the teacher training in pedagogy as well as in the use of modern tools and aids.

The private sector is therefore playing a major role in teacher training to cater to those in the private as well as government-run teacher training centres which have to be upgraded in their curriculum and infrastructure.

Dr. Anuradha Mehta, principal, Red Roses Public School, Saket. Views expressed are personal.