Spotlight: Blended learning is here to stay

The arrival of vaccines against COVID-19 is welcome news for one and all because the pandemic made everyone suffer in one way or the other. It changed people’s way of living, ways of meeting, and greeting. You call it and every aspect of life got affected.
The most visible impact has been noticed on the global education system that has not yet been fully functional even as the governments in many countries have opened most of the activities. The full physical interaction in schools and colleges is yet to pick up.
No one can deny the benefits of the traditional model of education in which there is a classroom occupied by students and teachers, as both have the opportunity to interact face to face, raise questions and get answers.
COVID-19 pandemic has changed the pattern of education forever. Classrooms got shifted to homes and computer screens took the place of blackboards. The teachers have an extra burden of preparing slides and adapting to the delivery method which was totally different from the traditional mode of teaching.
For Sangita Rao, a college teacher, “remote learning reminded us that powerful learning can happen only when we are engaged, energetic, and focussed. If it becomes a question of filling in hours then we are missing the point.”
Similarly, Dr Samskrati Gulvady, a mass communication faculty member at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, tried to draw a balance between the challenges and opportunities and said, “Education definitely has unparalleled opportunities to monitor and improve its own practices. We as academicians have new ways to communicate with our students.”
“Teachers-learners have been using social media in the physical classroom for education or social purposes for quite some time now. As the usage of social media increased gradually, information overload happened parallelly with umpteen pop-ups appearing on the screen.”
Now with the forced dependency on electronic devices, the information overload may turn into an information explosion that can affect people multi-dimensionally – seeking information, analysis, selection, and evaluation of relevant content. In this scenario, media educators need to equip their students with skills in media literacy, she said.
Media literacy, according to her, should also include educating the students on communication and social skills, social and ethical norms of conduct to be addressed in the new context of mediated social interaction. Thus, netiquette becomes an important eligibility criterion in an online environment.
Dr Samskrati cited, Marshal McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher on communication theory who is well known for his proverbial phrase ‘Medium is the message’
“Medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced in our efforts by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology”.
When the world gets back to normal, the real challenge for educators would be not to get back to our old ‘teacher-driven’ ways, but to apply the learning of this phase to enrich our regular classes. So blended learning is going to be the ‘new normal’ in the days to come.


Kaushalendra Singh