Blended Education Is The Future Of Tomorrow

Vidya Yeravdekar the Pro-Chancellor, SIU, Symbiosis University shares her opinions on Blended Learning and the Challenges amid Pandemic, Virtual aka Cloud Campus, Edutech Revolution, New Education Policy 2020 and her philosophy about education on the BW Education’s weekly dialogue, the Wednesday-Wisdom.

A university transforms the lives of these young children and that transformation only happens when they are on the campus with others among them so they can interact and get to know about other new things. With the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic and the universities have been forced to shut their doors to the students and test out online as an option of imparting education.

A medical doctor by training Vidya Yeravdekar is the Pro-Chancellor, SIU, Principal Director, Symbiosis University was trained in a government medical college. After this, she did law and then proceeded to do her PhD in higher education specifically in internationalisation. She is also on the implementation committee of NEP-2020 for Global Outreach and Internationalisation.

Blended Learning and the Challenges amid Pandemic

With the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic and the universities have been forced to shut their doors to the students and test out online as an option of imparting education. The evolution of blended learning, that is the approach to teaching and learning that combines face-to-face classroom instructions in an online setup. In this, a student is able to operate from home, finish and upload their assignments, carry out learning in a self-paced manner. It helps students to gradually move to a self-directed learning style.

Vidya says, “Back when covid 19 hit us in March of 2020. It came like a sudden shock to us as a university. First of all managing students and ensuring that they are safe and sending them back home. That was one of the biggest challenges as most of our campuses are residential campuses. Many of the institutions were having examinations at that time so to send students home when they were undergoing examinations was a huge challenge and there was panic among the parents as well as students” she continue saying “the second challenge was everything coming in online mode. To suddenly switch to the online mode which was totally new. That was very challenging for each and every teacher. The third challenge was in the checking and evaluation because that was something none of us has ever done but the way the facility adapted to this new online education was phenomenal.”

After the lockdown period really helped them as the university did a lot of capacity building, they gave teacher’s training and when things opened up, like when teachers could come to the university campuses though at a very low capacity (10-20 per cent) but they got the support of the university and then it was absolutely seamless online education, they could find different ways of pedagogy and they could find new methods of interactions. Vidya says "As peer to peer learning is important for students it’s equally important for the staff members to be amongst their own colleagues and near each other.”

The university adopted different platforms, techniques, and pedagogy and that made all the classes very interesting otherwise speaking in front of a blank screen is sometimes totally challenging as the teachers were used to seeing students faces, reactions, and their discussions in the classroom and then suddenly they had a screen full of faces and you have no idea who you’re talking to.

Virtual aka Cloud Campus

A university transforms the lives of these young children and that transformation only happens when they are in campus with others (teachers, peers, staff members) among them so they can interact and get to know about other new things. They are in an environment of diversity as students from different states and countries are there with them. This kind of learning is essential otherwise people would’ve moved on with the concept of virtual universities and the fact that they can get their degrees at the comfort of their homes.  Yeravdekar says “There is a great amount of learning beyond classrooms.” As our personality is built by so many other things than just what we were taught in a classroom. The amount of learning that happens while you’re in the college campus should be given the same amount of importance as the studies are given.

She says “I am more towards blended education than virtual university. Virtual education is the solution for sure but more than that is the blended education in which you get the best of both worlds.”

Edutech Revolution

Edutech companies have taken a major part in our lives amid pandemic. With lessor resources to learn things from, these Edutech companies came forward to help the students learn new and innovative things from the comfort of their homes. These platforms were already there but now you see their importance far more important than what it was back in the day. The kind of support they give is phenomenal because you have knowledge coming from across the globe. The biggest advantage of this is that teachers from Yale, Stanford, or whichever university, can now come to the university classroom, which one would’ve never dream of having.

Yeravdekar says, “There is a wonderful marriage btw Edutech and conventional education and this is the way forward and she totally supports the supplementation by Edutech companies that are coming forward and supporting all of 

New Education Policy 2020

NEP 2020 which was launched on 29 July 2020 has brought in a whole revolution in the Indian education system. After 34 years we saw a very progressive education policy and that was more than just the stakeholder consultation. It is not only for the people from an academic background but also for people beyond that, people who came from non-academic backgrounds (the industry, gram panchayat leaders, etc.) In all, it is a very holistic policy and is one of those policies that feel it belongs to the people of the country.

They just don’t talk about skill education and employment but they talk abt liberal education. Which is very important if we want to produce leaders in our country. Liberal Arts education or liberal education be as may you may call it cannot have a tunnel view of just one education like for e.g. where engineering students are given this type of knowledge other than just their tunnel view of technical knowledge. That’s when leadership gets developed, and you need thought leaders for society. Yeravdekar says, “You can’t just have people who are employable and work like machines in the industry. What you need is that kind of holistic view, you need people who are culturally sensitive, people who you can say that we have turned them into global citizens.”

The other part of NEP that she likes is that internationalisation and the importance that has been given to not just the mobility of students and attraction international students to India but it’s about the collaborations, the signage that they are talking about is something that excites her, the new concept of internationalisation at home.

Her philosophy about education

She believes that education is far beyond just getting jobs, job is by-product employability is really a by-product of what we prepare our students for and therefore to prepare your students for this type of concept of accepting different cultures and religions is one area of education and others are to see the needs of the society.

She says, “As an educationist or universities we really can transform lives and we see this happening every day when parents come back and say that they can’t recognise their children after 6-8 months, the kind of confidence and communication skills they have instilled and the change in mindset in accepting diversity & that is far more important.”

It is indeed true, that education is far beyond training, employment. It is about creating good men and women with feeling a Nobel citizenship and the feeling of sensitivity it’s that than focusing on skills and employment. If you create good human beings with the right kind of values you will get a job wherever you want to pursue. It comes back to the whole concept of Holistic education that we are trying to impart and it’s not just about the courses it’s about the mindsets, the principles that universities and the educators impart on students.

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