UGC panel prepares draft guidelines for 'blended teaching' in universities, colleges

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New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) Higher Education Institutions may soon be allowed to teach up to 40 per cent of any course through online mode with an expert committee set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) drafting a concept note on 'blended mode of teaching and learning' in varsities and colleges. The UGC has sought suggestions and feedback from various stakeholders on the draft concept note by June 6.

'The UGC had decided that HEIs should be allowed to teach up to 40 per cent of each course through online mode and the remaining 60 per cent of the concerned courses can be taught in offline mode. Exams for teaching under both modes can be conducted online,' UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain said.

According to the draft, 'the advantages of blended learning for students include increased learning skills, greater access to information, improved satisfaction and learning outcomes and opportunities both to learn with others and to teach others'.

The concept note has been prepared in accordance with the new National Education Policy (NEP), which the expert panel believes, gives the acceptability of many modes of learning including that of face to face learning, online learning and distance or virtual mode.

“Blended learning is not a mere mix of online and face-to-face mode, but it refers to a well-planned combination of meaningful activities in both the modes. The blend demands consideration of several factors, mainly focussing on learning outcomes and the learner centred instructional environment,' the draft note said.

“Given the emergence of digital technologies and the emerging importance of leveraging technology for teaching-learning at all levels from school to higher education, the NEP recommends for use of blended models of learning,' it said.

'The NEP-2020 states that while promoting digital learning and education, the importance of face-to-face in-person learning is fully recognised. Accordingly, different effective models of blended learning will be identified for appropriate replication for different subjects,” the note said.

Defining the role of teachers in blended learning, the draft note said, 'blended learning shifts the teacher’s role from knowledge provider to coach and mentor. This shift does not mean that teachers play a passive or less important role in students’ education. Quite the contrary -- with blended learning, teachers can have an even more profound influence and effect on students’ learning'.

'Traditionally, classroom instruction has largely been teacher-directed, top-down, and one-size-fits-all, with a bit of differentiation thrown in, but with blended learning, it now becomes more student-driven, bottom-up, and customised, with differentiation as a main feature,' it added.

The expert panel noted that in order to implement blended learning as a new mode of teaching-learning in higher education, the area of assessment and evaluation needs to be explored again.

'Continuous comprehensive evaluation should be encouraged in universities and colleges. Summative evaluation strategies including open book examination, group examinations even for conventional theory papers, spoken examinations, on demand examinations have been recommended besides formative evaluation strategies like ePortfolio, creative products, classroom or online quizzes,' the draft said.

The UGC panel also pointed out that availability of infrastructure is fundamental to teaching and learning.

'It must be ensured that required infrastructure for online systems such as accessibility of internet, bandwidth, hardware, space and other related resources be made easily available for the smooth execution of blended teaching-learning process. The financial aid required to develop the infrastructure and resources must also be taken care of,' it said.

The commission has also called for experimenting with new tools for examination and assessment.

'During the COVID time, many exams were forced to be conducted in an online mode. These were supported by variety of tools which came into being in recent times and were based on proctoring through artificial intelligence tools,' the draft said.

'However, AI as technology can be used for many more assessments like, attention levels, speed of learning, level of learning etc. Hence new tools should be experimented with for examinations and assessments,' the draft said. PTI GJS RHL

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