POST TIME: 8 September, 2021 11:03:20 PM
Prioritize blended learning paradigm
In Bangladesh context students in school education have faced a significant learning gap despite the on-air education is running but in most cases they have not experienced academic year gap as the government announced their auto-promotion to the next class.
Alaul Alam

Prioritize blended learning paradigm

It is certainly appreciative to hear from the ministry of education that the educational institutions of the country are going to reopen after a long unprecedented closure. The education minister has announced to reopen educational institutions on 12 September 2021. For nearly 18 months remote education has been the new normal trend in teaching and learning. But in the time of reopening a question arises from many: is virtual education replacing in-person education? Or is the country going to adopt a blended education paradigm for students?
Obviously, these sorts of questions may be raised from different quarters of society. Many hope to solve the ongoing crisis in education through blended learning paradigm. Actually, blended learning refers to the combination of online and onsite education. In the post Covid era many countries are going to emphasize on the blended education to mitigate the loss in education caused by pandemic.
Undeniably, shifting education from online to onsite can never tackle the challenges in a short time the education has faced during the long uncertain closure. But the education catastrophe could be addressed with the shorter possible time in a befitting manner if the virtual education continues along with the most prioritized in-person education approach.
It is true that online education has in some cases failed to incorporate expected outcome but it would not be wise to leave this new normal trend of education completely, rather time has come to ponder over the challenges that made a huge number of students deprived of virtual education. Not only that, studies should be conducted why virtual education has not been able to bring desired outcome for the students.
Experts opine that many countries in the world follow blended education paradigm. Both online and onsite education are open for the learners. The learners are given options to choose their learning paradigm. They may choose either online or onsite or blended education model. It is evident that in our country conducting online education is almost the first time experience. So, if we continue this education system together with onsite education, undoubtedly this virtual trend will be able to be another model to accelerate teaching and learning to a height.
In Bangladesh context students in school education have faced a significant learning gap despite the on-air education is running but in most cases they have not experienced academic year gap as the government announced their auto-promotion to the next class. In case of tertiary education the students at private universities have smoothly continued their semesters amid the Covid-19 closure as apart from conducting online classes the universities have assessed students online.
Although the public universities in some cases have conducted education through online platforms, they have not developed paradigm to take online examinations that have caused a huge session jam bringing disasters for the students. Not only that, the students have faced a dire gap in knowledge and skills due to their stagnant in the long uncertain closure. So, to address the education catastrophe with the quickest response, together with onsite education the online education should be continued.
Actually, blended education not only means the inclusion of the online and in-person education, rather it is an integrated education system in which education and technology go simultaneously.
Technology-integrated education paradigm is relatively a new phenomenon in Bangladesh though many countries began this education decades ago. However, undeniably technology has changed the way not only our living style but also our thinking. The way we can produce, distribute and reproduce knowledge has greatly changed and when it is incorporated in the class the ultimate outcome of education enhances to a great extent.
Findings of the studies around the world show that the ICT-integrated class ensures more outcomes than that of conventional one. The world has advanced tremendously to digitalization and the digital learning has been emerged as a strong platform in the field of education and research. So, we hardly have any scopes to avert digital education amid living the digital era.
Again, the priority should be given to ensure a combination of online and face-to-face modes of teaching and learning not only to save the education from the ongoing catastrophe but also to ensure a world class teaching and learning paradigm for more innovations to make the generations into quality manpower.
However, it is good to notice that realizing the importance of blended education at the tertiary education in Bangladesh, recently the University Grants Commission (UGC) has finalized the draft of a blended learning policy so that Bangladesh is not left behind in higher education. The recommendations of the draft have emphasized on incorporating the online and onsite education to ensure the quickest response to the education catastrophe. Education experts opine that to mitigate the challenges in the post Covid era blended education is a must.
To this end, truly incorporating blended education is no alternative to taking our education to a global height. But to ensure the outcome of blended education the first priority should be given to ensure a hassle-free online education as it is very imperative to make a balance between online and onsite education that will contribute to blended education.

The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also a research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]