Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Blended mode of teaching

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Blended learning

Mains level : Paper 2- Blended learning and related issues

Blended mode of teaching and its advantages

  • A recent circular by the University Grants Commission (UGC) proposes that all higher educational institutions (HEI) teach 40% of any course online and the rest 60% offline termed as blended learning (BL).
  • The UGC argues that this “blended mode of teaching” and learning paves the way for:
  • 1) Increased student engagement in learning.
  • 2) Enhanced student-teacher interactions.
  • 3) Improved student learning outcomes.
  • 4) More flexible teaching and learning environments, among other things.
  • 5) Other key benefits such as the increased opportunity for institutional collaborations at a distance and enhanced self-learning accruing from blended learning (BL).
  • 6) BL benefits the teachers as well. It shifts the role of the teacher from being a “knowledge provider to a coach and mentor”.
  • 7)  The note adds that BL introduces flexibility in assessment and evaluation patterns as well.

Challenges

  • All India Survey on Higher Education (2019-20) report shows that 60.56% of the 42,343 colleges in India are located in rural areas and 78.6% are privately managed.
  • Only big corporates are better placed to invest in technology and provide such learning.
  • Second, according to datareportal statistics, Internet penetration in India is only 45% as of January 2021.
  • This policy will only exacerbate the existing geographical and digital divide.
  • Third, BL leaves little room for all-round formation of the student that includes the development of their intelligent quotient, emotional quotient, social quotient, physical quotient and spiritual quotient.
  • The listening part and subsequent interactions with the teacher may get minimised.
  • Also, the concept note assumes that all students have similar learning styles and have a certain amount of digital literacy to cope with the suggested learning strategies of BL.
  • This is far from true. Education in India is driven by a teacher-centred approach.

Suggestions

  • The government should ensure equity in access to technology and bandwidth for all HEIs across the country free of cost.
  • Massive digital training programmes must be arranged for teachers.
  • Even the teacher-student ratio needs to be readjusted to implement BL effectively.
  • This may require the appointment of a greater number of teachers.
  • The design of the curriculum should be decentralised and based on a bottom-up approach.
  • More power in such education-related policymaking should be vested with the State governments.
  • Switching over from a teacher-centric mode of learning at schools to the BL mode at the tertiary level will be difficult for learners.
  • Hence, the government must think of overhauling the curriculum at the school level as well.
  • Finally, periodical discussions, feedback mechanisms and support services at all levels would revitalise the implementation of the learning programme of the National Education Policy 2020, BL.
  • It will also lead to the actualisation of the three cardinal principles of education policy: access, equity and quality.

Conclusion

Government must take steps to address the concerns with blended learning before implementing it.

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