Dr Minu Madlani is the Principal of KPB Hinduja College and has held various senior positions in top colleges across Mumbai in a career spanning more than 3 decades. She holds a Ph. D (Commerce) in Rural Development with her subject being Marketing of Agricultural Products. She started her teaching career as a lecturer with Mithibai College, Mumbai. Over the years she has been a faculty member at Jai Hind College and has held the position of a Principal of L.S Raheja College of Arts & Commerce for seven years before moving on to K.B.P. Hinduja College of Commerce in 2014. At the University of Mumbai, Dr Madlani has been an instrumental figure, especially in the Commerce stream.
With the global pandemic almost becoming life as we know it now, virtual education has picked up an entirely new pace when it comes to learning and development for professionals and students alike. The rapid inoculation of e-learning from nursery to post graduation has not only made education more accessible, but also paved the way for a brand new learning model in the form of blended learning.
For the unintended, simply put blended learning is a form of education where online instruction is combined with offline experiential or practical training to provide a more hands on system of learning to the student.
There are a number of benefits to this system – from teaching students the more practical aspects of concepts to making them job ready as soon as they graduate – the merits of blended learning have been proven and appreciated by many educators globally. However like most forms of education even blended learning – with all its advantages – is a model, that at the end of the day needs a constant review and rejig.
Thus to ensure that the machine remains well-oiled and relevant to the students, it is essential to fine tune this system from time to time.
Ideally, with the help of the steps mentioned below:
The first and most important step in the process of ironing out the creases from your blended learning syllabus is to review it from time to time. This review is not only about the relevance of the program but also its efficacy, changes in the current business environment, employment market and how much the world has moved forward since the curriculum was first put in place.
A regular review of the course content will help educators make an informed decision about the quality of the program and take corrective measures in time.
When it comes to blended learning, the principle of one size fits all doesn’t quite apply here. Since blended learning is all about providing practical and theoretical knowledge together, it has to be customized as per the inclination and future professional aspirations of the student pursuing the program. For instance, a blended learning program for an engineer and a writer will be significantly different from each other. Thus, educators must closely focus on the personalization factor here to ensure their programs are providing maximum value.
- Research competitors:
Your program undoubtedly is a good one. It is value driven and provides a brilliant output in terms of knowledge and development to the trainee. However, it may not be the best and there is always room for improvement.
While designing/ relooking at your course, you should also thoroughly check what competitors and peers in the industry are doing about similar aspects so that you can implement their strengths and overcome your weaknesses effectively. This will help you correct any errors in time before it affects the credibility of your program or becomes redundant for your student.
In terms of competitor research you must always follow the principle of ‘learn from other people’s mistakes’
- Take feedback
In any model of teaching, feedback is the most important determinant. To be able to successfully fine tune your program to generate maximum value, it is imperative that you ask and appreciate feedback from recipients that are directly in contact with the program.
Taking feedback from the students will help you understand what works for them and what doesn’t and if your course is serving the purpose that you intended to serve. Sometimes, there may be a situation wherein all your existing research and analytics will prove that your blended learning program is the best, however student feedback may be otherwise.
Hence, accepting feedback is extremely important when looking to sharpen the delivery and impact your program.
- Experiment with newer models / teaching methods
If you’ve followed every rule in the book, and feel like your blended learning program is perfect now. You are probably wrong.
This because, even though it is perfect it may not always remain relevant. With times changing it is important to change the model in which instruction is delivered vis-à-vis technological integrations, mediums of delivery, course structure, online and offline assignments, case studies or even syllabus.
When you experiment with newer models and innovation in your program it keeps your students interested for longer periods and keeps the excitement for learning alive in them.
- Rethink objectives / adapt
Lastly, if there is anything that each one of us has learnt from the pandemic is that change is the only constant. The external environment that we are living in is in a constant evolution and thus, we as individuals also have to keep evolving.
As the business environment changes and newer generations come into the workforce, the employer and employee’s priorities on different things also change. For instance – the generation that thrived pre-2000s was deeply focused towards amassing knowledge and working hard to build a life and livelihood for themselves. However, the current millennial and genZ lot are only inclined towards earning money and maximizing their wealth. Thus, depending on changing perspectives towards life and profession – the objectives of the blended learning program also have to adapt accordingly.
Though irrespective of the benefits, implementing a successful blended learning program can be quite an intimidating challenge for educators. Especially in these current pandemic times when the face time with students is so limited and there is absolutely no control on education.
However, to smoothen the transformational journey and ensure maximum impact – there are a number of blended learning models that teachers can implement, that are affective with minimal effort.
Some of these models can be ones like –
Rotational – where students are given theory some days and interactive projects on the others,
Flipped classrooms – where learners attend classes to do projects and group activities and all theory lessons are made self-paced to be finished as homework.
These models, though sounding complicated are not only extremely easy to implement, but also guarantee maximum student engagement and appreciation.