I often give an example of a pizza in my master classes/workshops, while comparing a pure online learning model with a digitally transformed, blended learning model. Pure online learning model to me is just like a ‘Margherita Pizza’ which has no toppings. If nothing is available you go for it, but if options are available, you will want to add exotic and delicious toppings. I strongly believe that pure online education models are not sustainable in the long run. During hard lock downs, we have had no choice. The whole world switched to pure online mode as campuses were shut due to hard lock downs.

Let us have a look at the full spectrum. On one hand we have a centuries old, pure ‘Chalk & Talk’ teaching model. On the other extreme, there is a 100% online model, which has variants like recorded faculty lectures (no interaction among faculty & students), and synchronous digital classrooms which offer teaching in a virtual mode. The virtual classrooms do offer limited interactions among faculty and students as well as very limited collaboration among students through breakout rooms and chat.Covid19 and the resultant lockdowns have brought unusual challenges for our education ecosystems. This unprecedented crisis has also served a great opportunity to reimagine our education ecosystem, as both classical chalk & talk as well as pure online models are not sustainableon a standalone basis.

We need a blend of everything. The ‘Guru-Shishya’ relationship, a core foundation of a classical format, is still irreplaceable and has to be at the core, in any blended learning model. At the same time, we must design our learning models by adding exotic layers of learning. This is feasible by leveraging Digital & Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. There is a growing misconception that Digital transformation is all about technology. A blended education model is a product of a well-roundeddigital transformation initiative which focuses on:

  1. Flexible learning portfolios
  2. Leveraging technology to source, create, and deliver superior content
  3. All round development of students (physical and digital formats)
  4. Keeping student experiences (superior) at the centre stage
  5. Providing ample opportunities for faculty to upskill and contribute in, reimagining blended education through new generation designs

Education is all about students – Digital& AI technologies are proving to be key levers, world over in making education immersive, impactful, and personalized.

This Article is written by Antarpreet Singh, Former Director – Digital Learning, Indian School of Business (Hyderabad) and Former Asia Pacific head, Alcatel-Lucent University.

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