UGC’s Proposal For Blended Learning – Explained, Pointwise

Syllabus: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to education 

Introduction

A recent circular by the University Grants Commission (UGC) proposed a blended learning mode wherein all higher educational institutions (HEI) should teach 40% of any course online and the rest 60% offline. 

What are the benefits of Blended learning (BL) as stated by UGC? 
  • Paves the way for increased student engagement in learning 
  • enhanced student-teacher interactions 
  • improved student learning outcomes 
  • more flexible teaching and learning environments 
  • increased opportunity for institutional collaborations at a distance 
  • enhanced self-learning  
Benefits of Blended learning (BL) to teachers 
  • It shifts the role of the teacher from being a “knowledge provider to a coach and mentor”. This will enable teachers to have a greater influence and effect on students’ learning.  
  • Further, as against traditional classroom instruction which is “teacher-directed, top-down, and one-size-fits-all”, Blended learning is “student-driven, bottom-up, and customized”.  
  • Blended learning introduces flexibility in assessment and evaluation patterns as well.  
Challenges in Blended learning
  • Majority colleges in rural areas: The latest 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.  
  • Poor internet penetration: Internet penetration in India is only 45% as of January 2021. This policy will only worsen the existing geographical and digital divide resulting in the exclusion of a large number of rural students.  
  • All-round development hampered: Blended learning leaves little room for the all-round formation of the student that includes the development of their intelligent quotient, emotional quotient, social quotient, physical quotient and spiritual quotient.  
  • Dropout rates might increase: Blended learning mode assumes that all students who enter the arena of higher education 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. Expecting these students to switch over quickly to collaborative and technology-enabled learning will be stressful for them. It may increase the existing dropout rate in higher education. 
Recommendations to improve Blended learning

Given these challenges, it is worth considering a few recommendations.  

  • Equity in access: The government should ensure equity in access to technology and bandwidth for all HEIs across the country free of cost.  
  • Digital training for teachers: Massive digital training programmes must be arranged for teachers.  
  • Appointment of new 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.  
  • Curriculum design: The design of the curriculum should be decentralized and based on a bottom-up approach.  
    • Also, 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.   
  • More power with state governments: More power in such education-related policymaking should be vested with the State governments.  
  • Periodic feedback and discussion: Finally, periodical discussions, feedback mechanisms and support services at all levels would revitalize the implementation of the learning programme of the National Education Policy 2020 and BL. It’ll lead to the realization of the three fundamental principles of education policy: access, equity and quality. 

SourceThe Hindu 

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