Monday, October 24, 2016

Blended Learning: A Wave of Change for Education Improvement

We all are very well aware of the technical disruption that the Internet has created over the last decade. Education therefore could not remain far from the Internet's invasion. The way education is now imparted across the globe is seeing transforming changes. Blended learning is rooting itself in the education system not only in countries like US or UK, but it has found its way to India as well. 

Though there are certain disagreements as in what does the term blended learning exactly means, in a nutshell, it is a way of learning that constitutes online and brick-and-mortar system of knowledge impartation in certain ratios. It helps a student cover the course with the freedom of time, space and pace, while at the same time offering holistic development by intensive classroom interaction with peer students and the faculty. The faculty have by and large assumed the role of enablers, facilitators and mentors. The blended learning demands the faculty to be a step ahead in blended learning in its effort to effectively add value to students learning. Blended learning has evolved a lot, from CD-ROMs to a stream of videos using satellite.

Many of the engineering universities in Delhi/NCR have already made a substantial progress on implementing blended learning. Universities like The NorthCap University, Gurgaon have been practising this concept for over two years now. The campus is fully ICT enabled which makes blended learning sufficiently feasible. Students at NCU can easily access online libraries for various projects, research and development and use LMS which provides for students’ access to online material, videos and subject related superior information from MOOCs posted by the faculty for the students on regular basis. Smart classroom is yet another useful tool that is popular amongst students of the university.

“The best part about getting onlineaccess to the video lectures is that classroom's time is utilised in structured exercises and practical implementations of the concepts.”- A faculty member of The NorthCap University.

It was no surprise that the number of students taking online courses globally rose from 45,000 to 3 million in just a decade's time since 2010. In the current scenario, the numbers continue to swell by the day. The only disadvantage the engineering universities in Delhi/NCR observe is that students who lack self-motivation find it difficult to copeup with the concept of blended learning. The financial investment and lack of a learning environment can be still be overcome, but to cater to students with lower motivation remains a major concern even for the universities across the globe. The NorthCap University and certain universities across the globe, have had extensive discussions on the same within the University, and have tried increasing the classroom time for these students. The aim is not to force blended learning down the throat but to see that students are motivated and hand-held to grapple with the new system which undoubtedly holds the future.

Faculty and students are increasingly taking up MOOCs. This adds a huge variety and scope in blended learning. Various companies like Adobe, Blackboard and others have come up with a number of options for blended learning. Flipboard is extensively used in developed countries as one of the most useful instrument of blended learning. The major benefits students across the globe have observed that it operates on a largecanvass for students to learn from various sources at their own pace and convenience and substantially add to their learning in the classroom. This offers choice to students to go beyond their chartered curriculum and embrace new interests as well.With no more restrictions of place or time, blended learning has the power to make the Right to Education a reality. It is indeed a positive wave of change in the education system and is likely to be the most favoured choice by students of the future.

Universities such as NCU shall continue to be torchbearers for other colleges and universities in the Northern region to adopt blended learning of their students.

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