Hybrid model of education: Evolving with the Times
The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected the field of education, as it has, all aspects of daily life. The education sector is facing a grave amount of uncertainty due to COVID-19 as schools and universities are navigating challenging times. Many institutes of education remain shut, some are functioning remotely, and some have decided to take the leap of faith and switch to online courses. This switch can prove to be a massive opportunity to restructure the current methodology of teaching and learning. It can also be utilized constructively to upgrade to the relevant modes of teaching in the current situation by taking advantage of technology at hand.
Online learning: A new equation
Students across India have been taking online classes since the day the lockdown was announced. In fact, approximately 1,25,000 students from Medical stream as well as Engineering stream have been attending regular online classes to their greatest learning satisfaction. Schools and colleges have also switched to online education.
Creating an online Hybrid model of class structure to maintain the much necessary continuity in education impacted due to COVID-19, has been our foremost concern. We have always worked towards providing our students an engaging and holistic learning experience.
Virtual classrooms: What to expect
Extremely knowledgeable and experienced teachers take classes and ensure un-interrupted learning without compromises, thus making this learning experience at par, and even superior to the classroom model of teaching.
The Hybrid model or online mode of teaching enables constant supervision of the content of the classes, methodology and manner of teaching, and the attention paid to each student. The quality of teaching imparted can also be assessed instantly by the parents; a scenario which could have never been possible during the conventional classroom way of teaching. Moreover, Hybrid model enables close monitoring of the students while a marked improvement in the attendance is the icing on the cake. The Hybrid model or the online classes offer immense flexibility, and a greater scope for interaction with and participation by the students. This model has given an impetus to the strengths of focused students due to absence of any distractions as was earlier witnessed in physical classrooms.
Online teaching also saves precious time, money, and energy, otherwise spent on long distance commuting, which was often the case for many students. This ensures the safety and security of the student who is now able to avail high-quality education from the convenience of his or her home.
The hybrid model also checks teachers who may have been previously languishing or encouraging non-education classroom activities. In schools, it is often the case that teachers tend to teach sitting on a chair in a relaxed manner, simply read from the textbook or make students underline the course content without offering much explanation, undermining the very purpose of teaching. The transparency of the online system of education forces both the student and the teacher to stay extremely focused.
Tools of online education
Interactivity is the keyword as far as online education is concerned. The online mode of teaching comprises extremely facilitative tools such as audio-visual explanation of concepts, solved examples, interactive simulations, practice questions, adaptive assessments, all of which come very handy to students.
Online teaching also doubles up as a discussion forum for the participating students to ask questions as well as debate challenging concepts. The number of pre-tests conducted in the virtual classroom is considerably higher than what a physical classroom could ever afford due to time and evaluation restrictions. Virtual classes offer on-the-spot evaluation and quick assessment, thereby saving time and giving the students an opportunity to know where they stand as far as their curriculum goes. Doubt sessions and concept-strengthening classes are also an integral part of online teaching, in addition to pre-recorded lectures.
Students' performance and learning skills can be tracked via the online classes as the reports of each student's progress is individually stored and digitally tracked and updated. The analytical reports of the performance of the student help not only the students but also the parents in knowing the direction in which their wards are headed.
Troubleshooting Access issues
In a country where 75% of the citizens still do not have access to internet, the challenge is to reach all the students. This is enabled by the use of V-SAT based tele-education in virtual classrooms, which enables distance learning video teleconferencing where the participants can see each other without the use of internet.
Besides, live online interactive classes by experienced faculty with the help of internet, Aakash I-Tutor consists of video lectures whereby students can play the video as many times as required and learn at their own pace.
While Aakash Hybrid provides online classes to students they can visit the center for clarification of doubts and test discussions as per the new schedule of center visits one the pandemic situation is under control. This will help them to be in proximity of teachers who can motivate them and clear any doubts. In the future, there will also be room for offline classes for tricky and important topics.
The great fee debate
Some see online classes as a means to get cheaper or even free education. While the classes may be online, it is to be noted that the experienced faculty for online teaching come at a considerable cost. Institutes are investing massively in on information technology which is of a sizeable cost to the company. All these expenses along with many other hidden costs can only be paid once the students pay their dues.
Some even claim the inadequacy in online learning due to decreased human interaction. This may be a slight hindrance, but it has been best tackled by making students meet their teachers up close and personal, online, just like in a normal classroom. Moreover, during such troubled times, it is the safest bet for everyone to stay home and learn online.
We at AESL are providing the Hybrid model in addition to free access to Aakash I-Tutor help students shine on with all the tools of online learning. Online learning has fast become the new way of a world hit by a pandemic, and it is of utmost importance to keep pace with the changing times.
(The author is Chairman and Managing Director of Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL))