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UGC model of blending online, offline learning a game changer; won't make teachers less important

·3 min read

The University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) are continuously working towards bringing revolutionary changes in the higher education sphere and, collectively, believe that the rapidly changing global perspectives demand a radical change in our teaching pedagogy as well.

Looking at the most challenging situation the world is facing now, in the form of a pandemic, it is impossible to continue with traditional teaching methods; we are forced to conduct all teaching and learning activities online. In a way, technology has come to our rescue and educators have effectively utilised it to avoid hampering the flow of disseminating education.

Given that this change is here to stay, UGC has recommended blended learning under which up to 40 percent of a course can be taught online and the rest 60 percent through traditional, offline methods, at all higher educational institutions.

Blended learning means€"we blend digital teaching methods with traditional means of teaching to make the entire process more efficient. In no way will it affect the workload of teachers. On one hand, students are connected with their teacher virtually, while on the other hand, the teacher engages students in a live, interactive classroom through the tools of technology. The primary objective is to make the process of learning not only impactful but also engaging, interesting and challenging for the learner.

Initially, people may resent UGC's move but when seen objectively, it is well-thought-out and timely. In fact, this policy decision by UGC on blended learning is highly pragmatic and will certainly become a gamechanger in the education system. In principle, the entire Indian academic community ought to applaud the visionary initiatives of the Ministry of Education, UGC and AICTE under the dynamic leadership of Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' for taking such reformative decisions in the best interest of the learner as well as educational institutes.

The blended mode of learning would prepare students for a technology-driven world. If we see from a pure administrative and financial point of view, it also reduces expenses and maximises savings for an institute. It offers flexibility to both students and teachers€"students can learn at their own time and pace; teachers can plan their work hours better. Moreover, blended learning can allow regular student feedback as well as facilitate collaboration or discussion among students.

The New Educational Policy(NEP) 2020 has unveiled a blueprint for much-needed changes in the Indian education system. The NEP 2020 clearly states that education has to become more student-centric, that student is the major stakeholder here and the entire education system has to help them accomplish their dreams, and in turn, lay the foundation for building a country of our dreams.

The world is constantly changing, and we need to keep pace with it, including in the sector of education. Digital learning has influenced educational institutions to a great extent, forcing a shift from traditional modes of learning.

One can cite several reasons in favour of digital learning: better student engagement, better student-teacher communication, time management along with flexibility, better results, experiential learning, etc.

In the blended model of teaching and learning, the role of a teacher changes, from being just an education provider to a trainer and a guardian. In no way does it make the role of a teacher less important; rather, it helps both students and teachers equally. When students get an opportunity to learn at their own pace, it helps instill a sense of independence and responsibility in them.

Fresh out of school, young adults in college are just a few steps away from facing the harsh realities of a demanding workplace. Higher education institutes, therefore, have a unique responsibility of not just imparting a degree but making these young adults ready for the challenges they will face once they step out of college. The learning should not just be directed towards creating 'job seekers', but well-aware, informed and tech-ready citizens who can be an asset for the country and humanity, at large.

The author is Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh. Views expressed are personal.€‹

Also See: NEP and higher education: One regulator to rule all, more flexibility for students, no MPhil

UGC issues guidelines for conducting exams; arrangements to be made for masks, sanitisers, centres to be thoroughly disinfected

NITIE holds semester exams online for final year students due to lockdown; institute had earlier conducted admissions online as well

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