How can educators bridge learning gaps with blended learning?

Schools have adapted well and survived the crisis, now it’s time to thrive….

Education sector witnessed an unimaginable disruption last year! But, thankfully, the worst is behind us and there is a ray of hope that schools will reopen soon.

Though studies continued for our children through digital means, it is a bitter fact that face-to-face interactions with teachers and fun time with peers were missed terribly, even if the virtual classes were effective.

Physical classrooms are an indispensable part of a student’s life – vital to their growth, we all know that. But, we have realized something else too, which is equally important – THE INCREDIBLE POTENTIAL OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION!

Technology integration into lesson plans brought several interesting and multi-dimensional prospects to the classroom. Would teachers and students want to say ‘bye’ to all the amazing and wonderful things they have discovered and explored during this exceptional academic session? Definitely, not!

Well, a 100% digital approach is not something we are endorsing here, for sure! It is inappropriate for holistic development and infeasible too given the ‘digital divide’ in our country.

Only 40% of the rural communities have access to devices and only 8 -10 percent of the children from such households, get to use the devices for their learning. It’s no surprise that only 60% of the children from such regions have been able to attend online classes because either they were grappling from network connectivity issues or  unavailability of dedicated devices due to a single device being shared among 2-3 children.

Then, what is the best way forward…..

…embrace “blended learning”, where print and digital coexist!

Yes!, our futuristic classrooms should have tools from both traditional and digital realms, so that teachers can adopt a “blended” multichannel teaching approach offering the best of face-to-face and online worlds – all in one place.

As schools prepare to reopen for the next session, there are several challenges ahead of them. In particular, educators are anxious about the emergence of learning gaps. One complete session has been online! It has been hard for teachers to gauge students’ performance with precision. Not every child has been comfortable with virtual learning, some had inhibitive fears to express, while some failed to concentrate and grasp concepts during online sessions.

Can teachers bridge these learning gaps through blended learning?

“Students” are at the heart of the blended teaching-learning process.

Blended learning will help teachers acknowledge varying strengths of students, personalize instruction and present information in multiple ways.

  • The analytics capabilities of online platforms can be instrumental in addressing learning gaps –  the automatically generated statistics such as quiz scores can be used to inspect the patterns, common trouble areas etc. This kind of information is so helpful in giving personalized feedback to students.

Imagine a textbook aligned to some video on a digital board and is mapped to an evaluation framework with reporting capabilities! – a great tool indeed to conduct formative assessments

  • Online quizzes are quick and effective techniques to uncover learning gaps and assess students about the previous chapters. Follow-up activities can be assigned to students based on their quiz scores. Interactive games and short presentations can be used to reflect their understanding.
  • The use of eLearning materials promotes a sense of responsibility and ownership in students regarding their learning. They become self-driven and learn to seek help or hunt resources as per need. Students can also revisit concepts anytime, helping them learn at their own pace.
  • Blended learning, provides an online platform like LMS for organizing and presenting material that students can refer to prepare for in-class activities. For instance, give students an online reading assignment and a linked quiz to complete before attending class the next day where there will be follow-up discussion on the story and a writing task. The references will help them prepare better and participate more actively.
  • Blended learning engages parents in their child’s learning journey – digital learning resources, question banks with different difficulty levels, class performance charts and graphs, automated reports can be shared with parents giving them a better perspective about their child’s growth.
  • Conducting research and exploring topics online is interesting – they stay focused for longer periods compared to textbooks or paper sheets. Blended lesson plans incorporating audio-visual elements, online assessments along with textbooks, enhances student engagement levels quite significantly. They are able to retain information and apply the knowledge gained.
  • Online apps and learning materials in a digitized setup, facilitates the teacher to experiment with new ways of teaching, allowing her to collaborate with students in creating a more experiential learning environment.

Blended learning solutions are the need of the hour for a robust and progressive educational system, barring all access and time-related limitations to learning materials!

Blended learning has the proven potential to enhance both the effectiveness and efficiency of meaningful learning experiences and bridging learning gaps.