Integrated Model: The Perfect Blend for Learning

08 December 2021
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In the modern day, technology offers resources galore for educators and to the learners it offers a learning environment like never before. It will only be right to use this plethora of resources at our disposal to the advantage of a generation that is born with technology in every aspect of their lives. Gen Z, operates in a world where everything is available to them at their fingertips (even voice commands, now)

Distance learning, or online learning - while has been extensively discussed in the last few months owing to a pandemic - is no novelty for educators or learners.

In fact, the concept goes back in history to Eklavya, the prodigy student. Eklavya was refused admission into Dronacharya’s school of archery because he did not belong to the elite class. Eklavya was not to be disheartened by rejection. He refused to settle for nothing but the best and took it upon himself to get the education he desired, albeit from a treetop - observing his guru giving lectures to others. In the modern day, YouTube and various digital learning platforms provide the same services!

However, Eklavya practised in isolation and practice alone may improve skills and help learn concepts but it does not guarantee application or mastery. What Eklavya lacked was what the presence of a teacher in the classroom gives to the modern day student -observation, evaluation and feedback, hand-holding and remediation, and at other times by your peers - peer-learning. An equivalent to today’s online courses, where the teacher is virtual, and the learning less real where students learn, but there is still something missing. Not to mention, digital learning is not all boons and has its own disadvantages - screen dependency, health hazards along with the fact that it lacks personal involvement.

In a classroom, some children learn by listening attentively while some take notes and learn from writing and reading them later; some learn from observing other students - peer learning. Yet others, including those with attention deficit disorders, learn by doing things -- hands-on activities. A classroom alone enables you to find out your best way of learning, sometimes helped by your teacher.

School is not only about the classroom. Socialisation that happens in the school lays the foundation for the students’ social skills and is important to grow to be human.

The solution, therefore, lies in a hybrid learning model, where we put the best of both worlds to our use. In fact, the NEP-2020 also states that while promoting digital learning and education, the importance of face-to-face in-person learning is fully recognised.

An integrated model of learning where students have access to study material and the learning resources at their time and convenience, giving them the opportunity to repeat a talk the teacher gave in a video lesson or break the information and analyse it at his own pace, or even delve into something of interest to your satisfaction while not being forced to stop at the end of class.

It retains and enhances the elements of personal touch by changing the role of the teacher to that of a mentor, rather than of a source of information load. Contact classes continue to offer a platform to share learnings, or bridge gaps in knowledge while working together for healthy interaction and inquiry.

The last few months have seen schools opening up with few students coming back to school while most are hesitant to return. The fear of new variants and the impending vaccination for children in India only reinforces the need to teach both offline and online (sometimes concurrently); collaborate and connect while social distancing; and remain fluid, flexible, and agile in an evolving learning environment. This means that we must be ready to move from one environment to another seamlessly.

It is therefore important that all teachers plan their lessons to be fluid. Here are some tips for teachers :

  • Structure your syllabus as per your goals, with smaller milestones and share the same with your students.

  • Content to be taught online and that to be taught in a live classroom must be clearly distinguished. This may be different across subjects and even so across different grades for the same subject.

  • Face-to-face class time must be reserved for synchronous activities such as brainstorming sessions, call-response presentations and those activities that require immediate feedback to be given to the students.

  • Deliverance of instruction and self-paced assignments and activities (including independent writing) must be conducted online.

  • Use digital tools and technology that help you take the course beyond passive learning. For example, instead of just presenting a video, add an online puzzle to solve based on the video, or just a quick reflection activity or meta-cognitions that help the students engage with the content actively.

  • Don't overload on online assignments. Just because they can be completed anywhere, doesn't mean they take any less time than face-to-face work.

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