Learning in a phygital world

Among the many trends in education, a hybrid model seems to be the way forward

May 06, 2021 12:36 pm | Updated 12:36 pm IST



Education has been one of the biggest casualties of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The UNICEF-ITU report signals that this was the largest mass disruption in education in modern history and has affected 1.6 billion children globally. Around the world, policy makers have called for a move to remote learning to combat the crisis. However, this has led to an imbalanced landscape given the lack of Internet access for many.

India has always had problems with education delivery due to issues of lack of access. This has been exacerbated by the lack of connectivity. Despite Internet penetration being close to 50%, students in the 5 to 25 age group get only around 15% access. With more institutions offering online courses, and a multitude of emerging resources to improve the online model and make it a viable substitute for a traditional classroom, there is potential for change. Internet-powered mobile technology can change the course of education delivery and make it more accessible, personalised, cost effective and shock-proof. Students and teachers stand to gain form this confluence. Schools can redesign their architecture to reflect this new reality, and academia can revise curriculum and assessments to factor in the changed education environment. Technology is reshaping our collective ambition for universal quality education and improving learning outcomes. Access to technology and Internet is an urgent requirement and no longer be a luxury. The move to remote learning has not only provided ways to teach and assess differently but also encourages self-learning.

Not everyone believes online education is an equal substitute for traditional learning, but a hybrid model may gain traction in the future. The blended learning format redefines the traditional education paradigm and positively impacts four basic equations in the process — teacher-student; student-student; parent-student, and parent-teacher. All four equations are regenerated, as a new collaborative model develops.

Challenges are emerging, as we navigate the post-COVID 19 scene. The transition period will have to be managed through a combination of digital and physical approaches to teaching and learning. This blended pedagogy mechanism, called the phygital, is going to be the way of the future. Educational institutions must embrace this as it allows flexible teaching and learning in the new world we are entering.

The writer is Managing Director, Fliplearn Education

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