In a Dataquest-Microsoft workshop “Bringing Hybrid, Blended Classrooms to Life”, experts spelled out what the new face of the classroom is looking like.
Recall the last time you saw a classroom or learned something new? Chances are that you were way beyond the old-school (pun intended) way of learning. There must have been some form of technology sitting with you—and giving you flexibility, choice, accuracy, and contextualisation like never before.
Hybrid blended learning is now a reality. It is enabling teacher-and-student interactions, securing interactions, bringing in efficiency, and widening the horizons for students and enablers. And all this is going to get even more sci-fi-ish, exciting, and fun as we move ahead.
But very few customers have a digital transformation plan and especially when it comes to holistic transformation, reminded Amit Pawar, Director, Education, Modern Workplace, Microsoft. “The one thing that saved the planet and the industry during the pandemic was the Internet capacity we had. Somehow, through the miracle of planning, we could have the bandwidth to accommodate every kind of need. We had to ramp up our capacities at the server level, datacentre, and network level. It was a great enabler for learning.”
But when we look at hybrid learning, in particular, we need to focus on three components. He explained this based on lessons distilled from the successes and failures of customers he had observed. “Have a good framework for Education Transformation. Empower your educators and students to achieve more. That is where we need the design of equitable and sustainable learning environments. Also, improve student outcomes with relevant training and inspiration.”
He also dwelled deeper into the choice of solutions that are cloud-ready but not cloud-dependent.
No Walls. More Windows.
What also came out in an interesting and poignant way in this discussion was a rough picture of the future of higher education. Pawar reasoned that it is going to be flexible and personalised. We would see the advent of in-person, hybrid, and remote meetings. We would see enhanced responsiveness to unpredictable situations. We would see the learning that is tailored for each student and focused on successful learning outcomes as well as career-readiness.”
This kind of education would be high on inclusivity and engagement. Pawar cited the role of multi-modal and interactive tools here along with the use of synchronous and asynchronous approaches, collaborative and community-oriented models, and accessibility for students of all levels of abilities.
Nirav Rawal, Sr. Program Manager, Microsoft India underlined the need to enable students to practice real-world skills and discover career paths. “We need tools that empower students to find courses and learning experiences with specific feedback that shapes their career path in the right way and pace. AI-driven feedback, as seen in Microsoft products, would be a strong enabler here.”
The View from the Other Side
The adoption of technology is good news for not just learners but people who teach them and guide them. “Also important is the ability to get a holistic view of students to support engagement, well-being and success. Educators can view insights on engagement and spot trends at a student, and class, levels. They can also schedule check-ins and support the emotional well-being of students. Teachers can check for plagiarism, assign work in a smart way, create individual assignments, grade students’ work easily, re-assign work for revision and also make room for anonymous grading, wherever required. AI-driven guidance can also help to maintain social distance. Solutions available at Microsoft definitely enable engaging blended class sessions,” Rawal explained.
And educators need technology to accomplish both richer experiences for students as well as the good impact on efficiency and ROI.
“We have seen a lot of development and a lot of it was driven by customer feedback. I also urge customers to think of Teams not as a product but as a platform.” He encouraged users to try the futuristic set of tools and transform education and learning.
Pawar echoed that and added. “Take an assessment of where you are. Reflect on the use of technology in your education journey in all areas like student selection, retention, administration, engagement–everything.
As moderator Sunil Rajguru, Editor, Dataquest nailed well, being holistic and engaging is the new shape of this future classroom. Walking to school would not be just fun but can be done through thumbs instead of feet now. Welcome to the new classroom.
By Pratima Harigunani