The day the lockdown was announced, a virtual bell heralded a new dawn for both the young learner and teacher across India. A paradigm shift was inevitable in the way the teaching learning process was going to be transacted in our country henceforth. Nobody envisaged that an unseen, unheard of microbe would be the cause of a disruptive, yet positive innovation in pedagogic technique. The constants were the teacher and the taught, what changed drastically was the mode, method and modality of classroom transaction. There is a need for a new norm in the new normal, for ‘schooling’ to go beyond the school….for embracing the mixed method or hybrid model of learning….the Blended Classrooms… the future of schooling post pandemic times. For decades, educationists and scholars aired opinions, citing the need for embedding technology formally and firmly in our education system. The time is here and now for such a transformation. So, let us not ‘flatten’ the learning curve, but ‘spike’ it through new unchartered territory.
They say, “necessity is the mother of all invention.” How true these words ring in the present scenario. Overnight, the teacher transformed to being a virtual mentor, the classrooms and homes got connected through various hardwares and softwares, the blackboard was replaced by the screen, the chalk and duster gave way to online tools. What was once a digital divide resulted in digital proximity. Blended Classrooms will be the new virtual learning platforms to prepare our children for global citizenry. The need to blend is felt by all stakeholders because the way our children will be taught post Covid-19 will be very different from what they were taught before. It will address differentiated learning instructions. Students can now learn at their own pace….anytime and anywhere. It will enrich the learning process since face-to-face classroom style instructions will go in tandem with web enhanced instructions. Online modules will supplement concepts taught offline because they will be customized as per the students’ trends and abilities.
It is proven scientifically that use of technology allows students to retain information better than the typical lecture based classroom model. The flexi student centric schedule will promote engagement, self direction, critical analysis and skills of enquiry….all so very necessary in forging electronic friendships and dynamics for the future.
In a diverse country like ours, the blended classes will prove to be not only cost effective, but a unifying factor too, as the best resources can be shared by all. It is also noticed, that every teacher cannot cater to the learning needs and speeds of all pupils effectively and justifiably, whether they are gifted, struggling or somewhere in between. Such a module will help fill knowledge gaps, reinforce concepts, provide new challenges….in short be personalized.
The new change can also help in minimizing the pitfalls in our system, from rote learning the focus will shift to creative and critical thinking skills, from the pen and paper time bound tests to diagnostic and psychometric testing to assess whether learning objectives are achieved. It will also reduce unhealthy competition and inculcate collaboration. For the teacher who wants to strike a balance between the offline and online methods, Blended Classrooms will help her in creating a supportive yet challenging atmosphere where the learner gently shifts to being a leader, self-driven, independent and focused towards assigned tasks.
So, lets welcome the new normal and take a giant leap in our learning curve. Technology can never replace a teacher, but it surely can enhance the skill curve….because learning is not a location, but a process.
A small brief regarding the contributor:
I am a post graduate in English literature from Ferguson college, Pune University, a university topper and scholarship holder from MHRD. Thereafter I have contributed by services to school education as a teacher and then a Principal for the past 30 years. Last year I was felicitated by CBSE with the Best Principal Award. For the past 10 years I have also collaborated with CBSE on various R&D related topics, Principal’s Handbook, Curriculum and Syllabus for classes 9 to 12 and many other educational domains.