Virtual Education is the next big thing in the new normal

Nishant Agarwal, Founder, Proctur outlines the need for a hybrid learning model and how Virtual Education is the next big thing in the new normal.

CIOL Bureau
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According to UNICEF’s observations, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to global closures in 53 countries and local closures in 27. This translated into an impact on 61.6% of the world’s student population with 32+ crore learners impacted within India alone! According to UNESCO reports, the pandemic has hurt two categories in the education sector; 14 crore primary students and 13 crore secondary students.


The sudden closure of schools immediately prompted authorities to recommend distance teaching. Thus, aiming to reduce inactivity amid the pandemic. Although the use of technology in education is no surprise, the traditional brick-and-mortar schools were unprepared for a sudden change like this. Teaching as well as assessment techniques had to evolve overnight and move online.

With the due passage of 1 year, institutions have now established a certain level of comfort with the use of technology in their curriculum. It is almost as if COVID-19 recognized the lag in the adoption of this trend and accelerated the process.

Any-time Learning


As institutions are reopening their gates once again, one word is commonly resonating among the educators’ fraternity – “blended”. Blended is nothing but a combination of face-to-face learning and technologically supported virtual learning. This new model of education benefits both kinds of learners – those who learn better in person with immediate feedback as well as those who wish to leverage digital tools and prefer self-paced learning.

The “hybrid” learning mode or the blended mode of learning has been around for a while. Yet, it only gained centre stage due to the effects of the pandemic. This model scores as a trouble-free and low-cost affair whilst offering students a holistic, engaging, and customized learning experience.

The deployment of technologies like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in creating tailored content based on the pace and performance of each student, has set all eyes on this method of learning. Given a robust Learning Management System (LMS), institutions can seamlessly manage course material, assignments, quizzes, debates, discussions, and workshops – all under one roof. The outcome of using such a system in education looks very promising.


The conundrum: Online or Offline?

While the use of technology gained traction through the lockdown, schools will face yet another challenge. When students return, how will they detach them from technology again? They may have rapidly transitioned into its use but reducing dependence on the same could be challenging. Strategies are underway on tackling this foreseen problem.

If blended learning is to be executed and accepted as the way forward, the best of both worlds will have to be incorporated into the model. Some teachers believe that education institutes can achieve it by having the students rotate between activities – online and offline. The added advantage would be the freedom to customize this experience with due focus on the needs of the students.


It is a fact that with the use of AI-Ml and VR, teachers can create a truly engaging and immersive learning experience. But they also need to pay attention to theoretical lessons, which projects, internships, webinars, etc can support and thus, achieve holistic learning. Imparting knowledge through state-of-the-art technologies also hones the student's real-world-relevant creativity and design thinking skills, encouraging them to explore out-of-the-box solutions for problems.

Another great quality observed and nurtured in the students through the blended learning program is integrity. Students are questioning what they see or hear. They are ensuring that their research work before they make their final submissions for assignments and projects. Students are slowly realizing the importance of truth and facts in their work and pass on for assessment.

Which way are we tipping?


As is with every new trend, there are two sides to the coin. On one hand, the paperwork for teachers has reduced drastically as everything has moved online to powerful Learning Management Systems. Students are also responding well in most cases to the new normal. On the other hand, the socio-economic inequalities in the country drive a wedge into the upscaling of the entire supplementing infrastructure.

The rural population continues to have limited access to connectivity, making the penetration of hybrid learning further than developed cities a tough nut to crack. On the flip side, kids are also over-exposed to a cognitive overload of on-screen content, limiting critical thinking abilities. Also, with the increasing use of technology in virtual learning, kids will not develop social skills that are relevant during interpersonal interactions.

In conclusion, the challenges are many, but they do not outweigh the direction in which the education sector is moving. We may have a long way to go before we fully digitize our education sector. But still, we have already taken a big step in the direction to trend on a larger scale. Blended learning is inevitably the way of the future. It shall also unlock greater possibilities with the deployment of technology.

The author of the article is Nishant Agarwal, Founder, Proctur.

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