Husien Dohadwalla is the founder principal at JIRS Hybrid School, Bengaluru. He has been associated with international schools for more than 16 years in the capacity of Academic & Curriculum Director. He is also a certified Happiness Coach, Career Coach & mentor and Google Educator. He is an expert in both IB and Cambridge programs and since 2013 has also been working with the IB Organisation as a School Visit Team Leader and Workshop Leader to help new schools in the Asia Pacific region become IB World Schools. He is an alumni of Mumbai University and Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kolkata.
Over the last few years, the Indian education system and learning process have grown manifold. Several stakeholders including the government, institutions, academicians and experts have conceptualized various methods and avenues with an objective to make education high-quality, easy, accessible and future-ready. Suggesting that learning will happen online with students and teachers staying away from classrooms would have been deemed far-fetched until last year. But that has become a reality today because of the unprecedented global crisis caused by the pandemic. During the course, the integration of technology with education was relooked, redefined and reshaped so that the learning process continues even while schools are shut. As every tough time awaits a new beginning, the education sector has been experiencing and experimenting with an advent of newness. Thus arises the hybrid model of learning.
The concept of a hybrid learning education model has evolved from online learning. It has been successfully implemented and tested in overseas markets. The use of it in India is picking up as we slowly move into the never normal era. With hybrid learning in the spotlight, schools and other educational institutions are trying to adapt to the paradigm shift. This shift in how we view teaching and learning will have a profound impact on the education ecosystem.
It is not just educational institutions that took cognizance of the rise of learning using technology, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT), too, have roped-in organisations like Microsoft Education and Tech Avant-Garde to train teachers in online learning. This will go a long way in strengthening distance learning when the use of technology for learning has become a necessity for the smooth functioning of the education system.
The hybrid learning education model offers a fantastic opportunity to create and expand online learning management systems in the country. Technology based solutions that provide hybrid learning and replicate a physical classroom is the need of the hour. Our experience of the past year has shown that online teaching alone doesn’t work and has led to learning losses. The Hybrid learning education model aims to overcome this. The hybrid model offers an exceptional degree of flexibility and freedom both to the students & teachers, making it possible for students to choose a learning style that suits them. This is just not possible in the traditional ecosystem and neither in pure online learning.
The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, too, laid emphasis on tech-enabled learning, indicating the government’s intent for an agile and flexible education system. The flexibility will help in retaining students with different capabilities and hybrid education will help teachers adopt more creative ways to engage with students, thereby helping them to remain in the mainstream. Hybrid learning is here to stay and key stakeholders – teachers and students themselves have shown a marked preference for it. The same has been brought forth in the findings of a report titled “Re-envisioning higher education through digital adoption” prepared by PwC India and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
The rise of hybrid learning and its growing popularity has enabled educators to now teach in-person and remote concurrently. They can also streamline a course to cater to different learning styles. For students, it has opened the doors for access to subjects or courses as per their interests, as they enjoy the benefit of moving from in-person to remote learning seamlessly. This has boosted the student’s ability and confidence to grab opportunities to learn and grow remotely. Hybrid learning also opens the doors for international collaboration which helps students understand inclusivity and cohesive living by educating them about other cultures. Hybrid learning introduces a wide diversity of learners making each classroom a global one, allowing deep learning through peer-to-peer learning.
Hybrid learning means a deeper integration of technology in delivering education and that makes it possible for content customisation, deployment of cutting edge and latest technologies to create an immersive learning experience for students. Going hybrid also addresses an important issue in the traditional education system which is absenteeism. Students who missed class due to illness or other reasons can now catch-up and keep pace with the progress of the class. Thus, hybrid learning is not only helping change the way we think of education, it is also removing bottlenecks and barriers that existed in the traditional education system.
The Hybrid Model also enables individual schools and institutions the flexibility to design their own unique model. Online sessions can be paired with a non-synchronous instruction – like a visit to the zoo, where students have the flexibility to decide when to undertake the trip. They can also decide how they would like to prepare their report and plan their visit accordingly. The flexibility to set their own timeline and complete assignments in a self-paced environment allows students to develop traits like self-discipline and independent thinking. These traits enable them to work to their best potential, unleash their creativity and bring originality in their learning.
As the integration of information technology and digitisation accelerates in education, hybrid learning will become an integral component of education starting from the school level. From language apps to video tutoring and educational software, hybrid learning tools have already seen a surge in their usage. There is a growing momentum for hybrid learning and the flexibility, clarity in concept delivery and development of qualities that have practical real world applications has made both students and teachers develop a clear liking for the model.