India boasts of being the youngest nation but it is also among the top five nations with 1.4 million kids aged six to 11 out of school. Due to poor infrastructure and amenities at government schools, teacher absenteeism, low teacher-student ratio, socio-economic hurdles and accessibility, the Indian education system seems to be ailing gradually. We follow the cramming culture in our education system, wherein the best crammers are rewarded, while skill based education is completely ignored.
Quite consistently, Indian universities have failed to make to the list of the top level institutions in the world. While Chinese and U.S. universities are enquiry centric, Indian colleges are more theory centric. Rather than practical implementation of knowledge and concepts, accumulation of theoretical knowledge through cramming is given priority.
The hurdles, inconsistencies and impediments can be significantly curtailed if the education system finds some space for Hybrid Learning. Not a relatively new concept, its implementation and development has been a slow and prolonged affair. Hybrid Learning involves a model of course design that combines traditional learning with online and out of class course work. The ratio is fixed taking into consideration the type of courses offered by the institutes and the way it can viable for integration. Institutes in India can opt for different blended modes of delivery which are based on accomplishing learning objectives for particular individual courses. Though, there is no divine formula for selecting the modes of delivery, through revising and testing the courses can be developed. Fully online learning systems are somewhat different to hybrid learning due to the use of a Learning Management System (LMS) in hybrid learning which lets you customize your modes of delivery.
Teachers can use discussion boards and chat rooms to follow up on in class discussions and assignments to provide feedback and prepare students for future classes. Through group tools, instructors and teachers can assign long term group projects and activities. It can also help in intra-team discussions and sharing documents. It will also provide assistance to teachers and instructors to store documents and class materials that are quite cumbersome to duplicate or file like power points, class notes, artwork slides, math formulas and research work.
In India, education consistently underperforms in comparison to the economy and to urgently improve the quality and scope of education, there is a dire need to leverage hybrid learning and its allied technologies. Releasing schools from their physical limitations is one effective way to scale up the education system by providing alternatives to traditional forms of education. In a country like India, where getting a concept like hybrid learning is quite arduous and complex due to economic limitations, an experimental phase can be started by getting educators and institutions to collaborate and work together in order to re vamp traditional education in clusters. On successful implementation of these phases, the initiative can be tagged along with other education initiatives and programmes to have a snowball effect.
Though easier said than done, there are negative pre-conceived notions of online education which revolve around their perceived quality, delivery and accessibility. These perceptions need to change in order to recognize the immense potential through customized education and appreciation of skills acquired through hybrid learning and other customized education models. Leaders in technological space need to provide their resources and expertise in order to help evolve the education system.
For schools and universities, hybrid courses can be a great way to compensate for limited classroom space and lack of availability of specialized instructors and educators. Hybrid learning also encourages time management, problem-solving, self directed learning and critical thinking skills in those who participate in the programs. It encourages active learning which results in better learning performance and subject grasp or mastery. Students in hybrid programs are far more likely to participate in group discussions and collaborate with each other on assignments and research work. They may also seem to be more outgoing and responsive because they don’t physically interact in front of the group.
Though, hybrid learning cannot completely replace traditional form of classroom mode of teaching and education, it can be supplemented with other forms or modes of education system to provide a powerful tool to develop and enhance the delivery of education in India.
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